Did you ever wonder how a writer comes up with character names? I think everyone has a favorite name—the name they should have given their child if only their last name wasn’t Schmidlapp; Giovanni would have been such a nice choice. Sometimes writers use these favorite names for their characters. They might build the entire character around the name, in fact.
I tend to build my characters and then decide what name fits. Not always, but I have that tendency. I think of whether that character would have a nickname, and how that would sound. Would it be one syllable or two? And if I’ve already built another character, how would they go together as a couple, or as villain and heroine? I virtually never have two names beginning with the same alphabet letter. I find that confusing to read, and I have read more than once that I’m not alone with that. Having Catherine and Camelia can make a person have to go back and reread to figure out who is doing what. Not a good dynamic between author and reader.
When I come up with last names, I think of ethnicities. Do I want my heroine to be an Italian-American? Would she be of Scots heritage? And how does that contrast or compliment my hero’s ethnicity? I’m also really careful about the names of villains. I don’t want them all to be of one heritage, or I start to look like I’m picking on one group or culture.
Names are important and can really start off the relationship between reader and writer well or badly.
So what’s your reaction to character names? Are you more likely to pick up a book with one of your favorite names among the leading characters?
For your hopping convenience: