Why is a Character’s Name Important to Your Book?

Posted on Oct 13, 2016 by   5 Comments | Posted in Blog · Uncategorized

by Nancy Lee Badgername

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.

Book Blurb from, Smoke, Clan of Dragons, Book #2, released October 7th
Wynn, a green dragon, tumbles off a hill, landing in snow. Sensing someone above his head, he jumps free, and accidentally slams a wolf against a tree. When the wolf shifts into a naked human female, explanations are in order. When she wakes, and Wynn says he means her no harm, she allows his human brother to carry her into a cave, where Vika cares for her. Wary about the golden-haired shifter’s mission, Wynn fears for her safety, and his heart.
While tracking the human who murdered her lover, Kera awakens to find a dragon staring at her. With no energy to shift back into her wolf form, she allows Vika, a pretty human, to care for her. The dragons take up her search for a killer, but the pirates close in and she leads Vika to safety. In the village of Morbhan, Toal abducts her and Wynn fights him. Her wolf pack wants her back, but the dragon has stolen her heart. Will she stay, return to her pack, or die while trying to kill her lover’s murderer? Either way, their lives will forever change.
Nancy Lee BadgerAbout the Author
Nancy Lee Badger loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, Nancy moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Triangle Association of Freelancers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy and her family volunteer each fall at the New Hampshire Highland Games surrounded by…kilts! Connect with Nancy
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5 Responses to "Why is a Character’s Name Important to Your Book?"

  1. Comment by Mickey
    October 13, 2016 2:37 pm

    I can always count on you to give me information I didn’t know. I just finished Spark and am looking forward to reading Smoke.

    • Comment by Nancy Lee Badger
      October 15, 2016 10:20 am

      An author always appreciates kind words. I hope you will enjoy SMOKE.

  2. Comment by Kathy/C. K. Crouch
    October 14, 2016 8:46 pm

    I can see the relevance for science fiction, fantasy, etc novels. I appreciate the link. I will need it for my wolf shifter story. I only searched first names wasn’t sure if I needed surnames in 1868 Texas.
    What about a contemporary novel not using any paranormal things. I have a Navy SEAL I named him Derrick Quinn Blackstone. The Quinn is his father’s middle name and I liked that Blackstone would make a cool nick name for his team name.

    • Comment by Nancy Lee Badger
      October 15, 2016 10:19 am

      I have a Regency hero named Livingston, but his friends call him ‘Stone’. The best names for a paranormal story are ones that closely fit the character’s inner conflict. A shifter named Wesley doesn’t cut it. but a hard name like Jack or Quinn are good,solid names. IMHO!

      • Comment by Kathy/C. K. Crouch
        October 15, 2016 3:21 pm

        I have Sierra and Jaxon in the shifter as my alpha couple, they have a son named Connor, a daughter (between 1-2) named Riley. The heroine is Cassie short for Cassandra. I typed in a search for baby names in 1868 and then went back to 1858 as well. I know you’re not supposed to have characters with the same first letter like Connor and Cassie but these two names resonated with me and to me Connor and Cassie are far enough apart in sound to not be confused.


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