Why is a Character’s Name Important to Your Book?
When you start to create a novel, naming the characters might sound easy to an outsider, but it is an important part of the craft of bringing your characters to life. Whether you are choosing a name for lead characters, their friends, the villains, family members, or their pets, interesting and pertinent names will make your novel come to life.
When I start a book, I have a hard time naming characters. Since many of my stories contain Scottish characters from the 15th, 16th, or 21st century, choosing a Scottish or Gaelic name enhances my manuscript, to pull the reader into the story. When a name comes to me, or I discover one during research, I keep a record, what writers call a story Bible. I have read stories that have confused me because three characters have similar sounding names, or they all start with the same letter. My Story Bibles remind me that I used this name or that, already, or suggest that a name starting with ‘W’ or ‘K’ might work.
One of my favorite research sites is a website called www.babynology.com. You can search by gender and ethnic origin. This site has names in either Scottish or Gaelic and includes their meanings. In my latest release, SMOKE, my hero’s name is Wynn which means ‘white’ or ‘fair’. I made him a white-winged green dragon that can shift into a blond-haired human, which fits. Kera, my wolf-shifter heroine, has a name that means ‘pure’.
Surnames are also important because I am writing historical fiction. For Spark, the first book of my Clan of Dragons series, I use Clan MacKinnon, which is associated with the islands of Mull and Skye. While searching for a Celtic, Gaelic, or Scottish name, I found several that sounded very romantic, such as ‘Fiona. She is the heroine in my next book, Smolder. Until then, please consider naming your characters in a way that makes you happy, and your readers involved. Simple is better, too. I planned to use ‘Siusan’ in another book, but even I grew irritated by the weird spelling. I changed her to Cora, which means ‘seething pool’. Since she is a feisty red-head, it fit.