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Naming Characters in Fiction

laptop and notebook with pen on wooden table top

The editor and instructor Jerry Jenkins is also a prolific writer with nearly 200 books of nonfiction and fiction (mysteries, romances, and works for children). He has 21 New York Times bestsellers, of which 7 debuted at #1. He’s best known for the Left Behind series.

Jenkins stands as a sterling example for all writers for two reasons: his persistence in putting pen to paper, and his dedication to the betterment of his craft. Luckily, he shares his principles and methods, online.

In his article, How to Create Memorable Character Names, Jenkins sums up the task:

Naming a character can almost be as difficult as naming your child. The name needs to be interesting and memorable, but not too quirky or outlandish. Captivating, not distracting. It’s a delicate line to walk.

Of special interest is his tool: Online Character Name Generator.

Jenkins also imparts good advice:

It’s fun to honor a friend or family member by using their name in a story. Just make sure it’s a good character — your aunt might not want to be the villain.

He’s right. Borrowing someone’s name or personality for a character could result in a lawsuit, or worse, could permanently damage a personal relationship.

Enjoy the article–and look online for Jenkins’ writing tips and techniques.

Published inAuthorBookFictionTechniqueWriter

One Comment

  1. Thanks for the link to the online Character Name Generator. I write historical fiction; so, when naming characters, I first look for names (first and last) that were typically used in the time period. Sometimes, I’ll hear a last name I like. I’ll then search for a distinctive first name to go with it. Some of the names I use are symbolic. Researching names is a fun and important step in the writing process.

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