Ummm…David? Jane?

So this week, I read about how one of my favourite authors, when stuck for character names, looks along his bookshelf and chooses two different names from the author names.

Damn, I wish I’d thought of that.

I’m useless with names. I always end up giving my characters the same generic names – Michael, Susan, David, Jane. Not very imaginative.(Except in fantasy. In fantasy I just sling a random collection of syllables together and hey presto, I have a fantasy name)

Names should mean something. They should reflect the character. If I call a character Jane Smith, she’s going to turn out to be rather small and quiet (apologies to all the Jane Smiths out there). But my head resolutely refuses to come up with names.

I’ve resorted to going to the library, opening a baby name book and a surname book, closing my eyes and picking a name at random. Which might throw up some interesting results, but might not fit my character. Or I’ll open a book, any book, and pick two names from the page and combine them. Or I’ll find a name and reverse the first and last – hence Sam Jackson becomes Jackson Sam, which sounds different and looks new and is a bit more forceful than the original name.

It’s good to know I’m not the only one to struggle with character names. Character traits and looks always come more easily to me than what they’re actually called – but I can’t spend an entire book calling them ‘the girl with brown eyes and the boy with a twisted smile’.

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One response to “Ummm…David? Jane?

  1. I’ve had that problem from time to time as well. At the moment, I’m in a rut with trying to choose character names. The ones that I were using interchangably with my short stories are now permanently enshrined in my debut novel.

    Guess it’s time to troll the files at work to find a few unique and interesting names again.

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