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How to Name Your Character–Superheroes and Otherwise. I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction- writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.
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This article will cover how to name characters effectively and how to avoid the most common naming problems. Character names serve several important roles, like differentiating characters and evoking an emotional response from readers. Readers use names to tell characters apart, obviously.
Authors sometimes complicate this by using the same letter to start character names, using similar- looking or similar- sounding names. We will keep John and Hideyuki apart in our minds, but maybe not Clinton and Cliff (or Kevin). As a rule of thumb, once you have used a given letter to start a character’s name, you can’t use it again. If your work is long enough that you name 1.
Also, try to mix up the number of syllables in your character names. Names also serve to define characters. A character’s name should establish or at least suggest a defining trait of the character. If you’re writing a superhero story, you may be able to get away with a wacky name like Captain Carnage or Devil Dog, like Superhero Nation does. Obviously, most writers have to be more subtle than that. Neville Longbottom” is a great example of a name that suggests a trait without being too ridiculous. However, giving effeminate and insufferable guys names like Percy is annoying and over- done.
It’s like his parents knew he was gonna be a wuss! Finally, names evoke an emotional response from readers. If your character is a hero, an excellent name will make readers feel he is heroic. This is usually subconscious and relies on word sounds. For example, if you want to associate a character with energy and activity, you’d want to use a firm and short name. Typically, protagonists are active go- getters– otherwise the story would be pretty boring, right?– so they have firm, short names.
When you name main characters, you should also consider whether reading the name 2. Because of the cold ‘br’ sound, Brian will probably grate readers more than Harry or Gary. Another consideration is the syllable count. Single- syllable names are fine, but not all are created equal. If you compare Joan to Jane and Joe to John, Joan and Joe are usually stronger because they end more pleasantly. Some other elements of sound you can consider: K, V, X and H are harsh.
Korvax and Havoc are probably not nice people. On the other hand, if Korvax is a pleasant newscaster, that could be hilarious). B, J, M, F and R are examples of letters that sound firm without being menacing. Frank, B. Mac, Brad, etc.
L, U, S and O are smooth, soft and sometimes sensual. Did you like the alliteration?)Characters immerse your readers in your world. Names help make the audience feel like they’re on your page, that they get what’s going on. For example, we aren’t meant to understand Judge Dredd and The Punisher as even- headed men of justice.
If those guys were named John or Mike, we might feel confused and disorientated. Alternatively, the use of several names for a character can indicate authorial ambiguity to the reader.
For example, my Agent Black is also known as the Manhattan Mangler. If I gave you only one of those, you would probably reach a different conclusion about how just, unique and proper he is. Readers would also visualize a different character. The Manhattan Mangler is probably a loose cannon with tattoos, long hair, leather jackets, etc. Agent Black is more kempt, septic and fits more with what we imagine a federal agent should be like. I hope that readers subconsciously associate respectability with conformity.
Common Naming Mistakes Using “exotic” names like Xsdajk’Uiopds is completely unacceptable. Generally speaking, extraterrestrials and orcs won’t have names like Dave, but that’s no excuse for randomly stringing together letters. A better approach is stringing together familiar sounds to make new names.
For example, your readers are comfortable with Brad and Darian, right? Together, they make Bradarian. If that isn’t alien enough, you could add a prefix or cut out letters to make Bradar, for example. Tim and Milly could make Imilly or Intimilly.
Names that are too long irritate readers. Generally, I’d recommend limiting a character’s name to three syllables. Meeting Of The Estates General 1789 there.
Maybe five if you often use a tag, like Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Fantastic.
Naming a character for reasons your readers can’t appreciate is ineffective. I’ve seen writing guides (plural) suggest that you name characters based on the literal meaning of the names.
For example, “Sophia means wisdom in Greek, so name a wise character Sophia!” That advice is awful. Your readers have no clue that Luke means high- born in some language they’ve never heard of. Professional Clown Costumes For Adults on this page.