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Archived Author Help > Protagonist name suggestions

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message 1: by Pratik (new)

Pratik Patil (pratikspace) | 18 comments Hi authors,

I am in midst of writing a thriller novel, plot is interesting, story line is nicely developing etc etc, but when it comes to deciding on the name of the protagonist, I would like your view on how you decide ?

The more i think about the name and more I ask around, for some people name is political, for some people name deals with race and ethnicity, for some name does not matter for their story reading experience.

I would like to know how you come up with the name of the protagonist ?

Does it have to be something in context to the story? Lets take a few hypothetical situations:
if story is about a guy from international start up, do u i have to make a story out of a guy with Israel name (Israel where start ups are exploding right now) ? or lets say if story is about some computer guy, do i have to select some Indian or Chinese name ? or lets say if story is about some cooking chef, do i have to select some famous Italian name ? and so on

I would really appreciate your view on this.

Thanks,
Pratik


message 2: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments I don't go with stereotype. While the name has to fit with the nationality I choose for the character, I don't choose it according to his or her work. I wouldn't call my protagonist Baker because he cooks, unless I intend to make a few jokes about it in the story. The same would apply for nationality.

For me, the most important thing when it comes to naming is to choose something the readers won't have problems remembering. If I decide to go with a mile long name, you can be sure there will be a short version for the characters to use. I don't want my readers to get stuck on the name every time they encounter it, of course, unless it's going to be used for jokes.


message 3: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Definitely avoid stereotyping. Giving someone a national-specific name based on their occupation could upset readers.

If the character is supposed to be from a specific area, like Israel, then yes, you might pick a name that originates in the Middle East. However, if he is supposed to be a European who happens to be in Israel, he'll need a name that fits his own geographic history.


message 4: by Pratik (new)

Pratik Patil (pratikspace) | 18 comments All good suggestions. Thanks a lot.


message 5: by D.J. Wilde (new)

D.J. Wilde | 44 comments Names. Sometimes you just have to sit back and let them come to you. Think about the character and what makes him or her tick. Imagine trying to guess their name. Kind of like looking at someone and thinking, "that guy looks like a "Dan" to me". Names can be tricky but also fun. All you can really do is mess around with it and see what hits the right nerve for you.


message 6: by R. (new)

R. Billing (r_billing) | 228 comments My long term FMC is Jane because the name carries the right associations. There's Agatha Christie's Jane Marple, the comic strip Jane, lady Jane Grey and many more. Her surname is Gould because it's almost an alternative spelling of gold.

Her antagonist in the current books is Arthur Kelso. Arthur because he thinks he has a destiny to rule. Kelso is a suburb of Glasgow, and names beginning K, B and G tend to sound more aggressive.

Jane's confidant and supporter is Annette LePage, the surname I hope gives her a slightly remote quality. She is a trained actress who dropped out of drama school to join Space Fleet, and a brilliant bluffer which makes her ideal for special ops.

Ian Sinclair, whose speech betrays his scots ancestry, is solid and reliable if a little unimaginative. He's usually found close to Jane, supporting her but wondering what the seven bells she's going to do next.

That's how I do it. Hope that helps.


message 7: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4270 comments Mod
Agreeing with those that suggest you stay away from stereotyped names. Many great chefs are not Italian, not all people that work with computers are Chinese or Indian, etc.

Ultimately there is no right or wrong way to come up with names.

Generally, I think about the character's background, their heritage and what kind of story it is to be. Often times I land on names that are a little unusual and fun, but that's because most everything I write is intended to be a little bit humorous. I also like names that say something about the character.

I have a short story that I dabbled with a couple weeks ago that I will probably finish and publish in November or December. The title character is named Bonny Truman. At first he comes across as an Alpha male redneck and a bigoted jerk, but as you get to know him you realize that that's just the outside. Inside he's actually a good man. The name is a reflection on that.

With Halloween coming up I'm forcing myself to goof out a few horror stories. I'm working on one right now called Z.I.T.S. which is a zombie story. It has a bit of dark humor in it, too. When the reader first sees the head zombie, they don't know it's the head zombie, but I named it Lancifer because it sounds a bit like Lucifer. It should give a bit of a clue. The story takes place in a high school and I named the superintendent Blather because he likes to prattle on about nonsense.

Naming characters is a lot of fun. Let your mind go!


message 8: by Erin (new)

Erin Zarro | 95 comments Also suggesting you stay away from stereotypes.

I might be weird, but most of my characters tell me their names. I generally don't search for a name...it's just there, along with the character's voice.


message 9: by Angel (new)

Angel | 216 comments The names of my characters come to me organically either before the storyline is written or during creation of the storyline. It's just never been hard for me to come up with names, my titles have always been like that too.


message 10: by L.F. (last edited Aug 28, 2015 04:15PM) (new)

L.F. Falconer | 63 comments You should certainly keep in mind your character's age, heritage, and the era the story takes place in, for those will all factor strongly in the selection of an appropriate name. Also, keep in mind the type of story you're writing...different genres have different demands of their character's monikers. The lead character of a hard-hitting thriller needs a different type of name than the lead character of a humorous adventure or a saucy romance or an epic space opera.


message 11: by C.B., Beach Body Moderator (new)

C.B. Archer | 1090 comments Mod
For the protagonist I was going to use the name of a person I met that day. I misstyped what I was thinking the very first time I typed it in, and I liked the name far better than the original which was just going to be a filler until I could think of something name.

I suggest doing that.


message 12: by Pratik (new)

Pratik Patil (pratikspace) | 18 comments All really good suggestions, i think i understand now when people say how names come to them organically and how it should match with context of story rather than some random name.
Thank you all.


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