character names

What's in a name?

A quick post today on picking names. I was giving a writing workshop over the weekend and one of the things we talked about was choosing the right names for your characters. Sometimes I read books and some of the names just doesn't suit the characters. Other times they are just perfect. For eg last night I finished The Perfect Proposal by Katie Fforde, a charming, compelling romantic comedy. The main character is sweet, funny, and put upon by her family who think she's an idiot (she proves them wrong!). Her name is Sophie Appley. It suits her down to the ground.

I try to take great care picking my own characters' names. In the Amy Green books one of my favourite characters is Clover Wildgust. Wildgust is a real name, I found it on a gravestone (sorry, bit morbid I know, but I do love graveyards!). Clover is 'Wild' by name, wild by nature. I could have gone for just Wilde, but I liked the gust bit as it's different. And Clover - well she just is a Clover. Amy is Amy because it's one of my favourite names - my daughter is Amy - and it's also a name lots of girls can identify with - she's my everygirl character in the book. And Green - again is a common enough surname and sounds friendly I think. And Amy is above all, a good friend, to MIlls and Clover, and also to my readers too I hope.

Seth Stone is emotionally strong and together - even though he has to cope with a lot a home - hence Stone. Bailey Otis, who will appear in book 3 is a mysterious boy with a strange past - Otis, after a song I like and Bailey as again it's a little bit unusual, just like him.

The adult book I am currently writing - The Shoestring Club - well, lots of names I really like in there. Arietty Pilgrim is my favourite name I think - an eccentric girl who communicates better with animals than people but has great inner strength. She's an elephant keeper. And I also love Julia Schuster - always Jules or Julia Boolia to her family, or Boolie for short. She's a mess sometimes, and does daft things, but she has a good heart.

I even took great care naming my elephants - Beatrix is the matriarch, and her sister is Enid - and yes they are named after Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton!

So there you go - think carefully about naming your characters and have fun with it. Make it mean something, to both you and your readers. Names count.

Yours in writing,