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The Importance of Naming A Character

Harry Potter, Christian Grey, Katniss Everdeen, Holden Caufield. We know them well as they are some of literatures most popular characters. Their names resonate with us the minute we hear them. We know immediate what book they are in and even if we haven’t read a single book their in we likely know a little bit of who they are. Why is this? Well aside from the obvious of some names being the associated with the title of the book, names are everything when it comes to characters. In order for a novel to stand out it needs a strong main character who will take on a challenge or adventure or connect and seem real to a reader. One way this can be done is by giving that character a name, a name that will not only represent what that character stands for but will stand out among the rest. How important is it to give your character a fitting name? It’s necessary and essential to your stories very existence. Sure you can name your characters John Smith, Emily Jones or James King but your not giving them identity, your not giving them a name that will stand out among the top names listed in the beginning. A character name needs to stand out, when you read it you immediately know who they are or when you see their name it gives you a sense of intrigue and makes you want to read and know more about them. How important is the naming of a character? More important then you would think.

Harry Potter. If you really think about it the name seems rather generic if you take out the fame that now comes with it. Before Harry potter was written the name could have easily gone unnoticed as seen as a common one. However now anytime we see the name Harry Potter we immediately associate it with the book series of a boy wizard. So while this shows that it is possible to take a generic name and turn it into a popular one it’s still better to give your character a unique name that stands out above the rest so people can easily know what they are from. The other names listed above are all unique and catch your eye. While Harry Potter and Sebastian Gray are names a real person could have how many people have you met that have the names of Katniss Everdeen or Holden Caufield? Probably none and if you have they are likely named after the characters. Many writers would not think to give any deep thought when it comes to naming a character. They think that the setting, plot and character details are important and a name is just a name. Yes perhaps that’s true but you need to give that setting, plot and character detail substance and that starts with what you think is the easiest thing of all..naming your character. A writer can pick a common name and still make that character stand out but if a writer really wants to get people to read their book or even just be original they need to think deep about what name they want to represent their book and their character.


A little bit of research is necessary in the naming of a character as well. If you book is set in China and your character is from there then naturally your going to give your character a Chinese name. If your character is from another country then you want to give them a name that originates from that country. If you really want to get into detailing and representing what your character is about you could even look up the meaning of a name and give the character that name so they live by the very name they were given. Origin, originality and a strong powerful visual of the name can really make your character seem very real. How can you come up with a great sounding name for your character? Look up names alphabetically, look up baby names, look up names from a certain country, ask people, watch movies. You can get names from so many sources its about choosing the right one that may be a difficult task but when you find the right one you’ll know. So remember the next time you need to decide and come up with a name for a character to sit down and give it some thought. Don’t use John Smith, Joe Schmo or Jane Doe, be original, be unique and give your character a name that not only represents your book but you can be proud to say you came up with your made your own.

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