Be Astute About Character Names
You wouldn’t put characters in your story with similar names, like Mary Barnes and Marion Burns. Avoid using not only the same letters more than once if it can be helped, but also avoid names that sound the same or which rhyme. An exception may be names for twins.
What follows are the names of characters in my latest thriller, Down to the Needle. Notice, too, that I have included brief descriptions of each character’s personality, which, I’m told, offers clues to the story plot.
ABIGAIL FISHER, Protagonist, heroine – has a lifelong obsession to find her daughter
JOE ARNO, Secondary Protagonist, Abi’s love interest – steady and supportive
Preston Fisher, Abi’s long-missing husband – secretive
Edith Armstrong, owns “The Beacon,” meals for the homeless – charitable
Becky Ann Fisher, Abi’s abducted daughter – artist
Megan Winnaker, Inmate – determined, brave, while facing death
Vance Winnaker, Megan’s father – Aryan
Rae Overland, gang member
Quincy Overland, Rae’s father – Aryan
June, homeless woman – confused
Margaret Griffin (Lady Griff), homecoming queen, Joe’s former obsessive love interest – quite the vamp!
Bertrand Thorndyke, III, Margaret’s husband – stiff, formal
Velma, Police sketch artist
Lindsay, Abigail’s store clerk – supportive, with business savvy
DeWitt, homeless man who protects June – has a sense of right and wrong
Chad Britto, Police Lieutenant – determined to crack the case before retiring
Stan Yates, blind man – egocentric, self-righteous
Hazel Yates, Stan’s sister – limited mentality
Dr. Gilda Sayer, Prison Psychiatrist
Emery Kenton, Megan’s attorney – hidden obsession
Jack Pierce, Fireman Captain
Dara Hines, Aryan girl – wild
Sling, Dara’s boyfriend – pathetic, fearful
Tess Ulrich, witness to Megan’s crime
Officer John Ryde, hospital guard
Lt. Donald Nater, retired, worked Megan’s case
Gary Croner, Arsonist
Twyla, Megan’s former cellmate
If you peruse the list above, note that seldom are the same alphabetical letters used in more than one name, except in the case of family surnames.
I once read a novella where four character’s name began with the letter M; three began with the letter R, and two with a T. Of the entire alphabet, and of the endless names and combinations that could be used, why must our characters seem similar in any aspect unless for a purpose? Our intention in creating likable stories is to give each character a different personality. That is further delineated by using names that look and sound totally different from one another.
Make a list of your characters’ names and their positions in the story. Try to use any letter only once. It may be an eye opener.
Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.