Naming Characters

Naming characters isn’t as easy as you’d imagine. I use the random Name Generator in Scrivener a lot, although I usually reject more than a dozen possibilities before I finally find one I’m happy with.

One note of caution for budding writers: be very wary of giving a character a name ending in ‘s’ or something that sounds like it. My detective protagonist* is John Knox (I’m stuck with that), but I wince a little every time I have to add an apostrophe.

I suppose I could always follow 21s’t century convention and stick them anywhere!

Meanwhile, here’s good advice on the subject from the prolific Derbyshire crime writer Caron Allan.

*The Midnight Visitor, the new Mary Maxwell-Hume/John Knox novel, is available from March 2022.

“That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet”

William Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet.

Shakespeare’s suggestion that names are not important is hopelessly wrong for writers. Who hasn’t sat, staring at a blank sheet of paper, agonising over what to call a character? And if it’s your protagonist, that only makes it harder. Without a character, you have no story.

Occasionally a name for a character just comes to me: Meredith Hardew from a book I plan to release next year, A Meeting With Murder: Miss Gascoigne mysteries book 1, and Cressida Barker-Powell from Criss Cross: Friendship can be Murder: Book1 published 2013 (whose name was a deliberate mutation of Parker-Bowles). These are names that sprang fully-formed into my consciousness as I began to write the story. I couldn’t even think of calling any of those people anything else. In fact this whole opening…

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