What makes a character unique?
What distinguishes one character from another? Their traits? Their beliefs? Maybe their ideals?
How about their actions, the way they dress and talk? All of these help set a character apart from the rest. But can’t their name reflect their character as well?
A name does more than help a reader know who said what. A name emphasizes and builds upon the character. It gives an extra glimpse of who the character is.
Take the two main character from my series, The Five Kingdoms of Severi, Edwin and Alden.
Alden means “defender” and “old friend”.
Alden is the prince and future ruler of Severi. Defender fits him quite well. The friendship he develops with Edwin isn’t one that can easily be destroyed.
Edwin means “valued”.
Edwin is the main character, one of great importance. Both the good and bad forces seek to use him to their advantage. He also becomes someone who Alden values very much, even above his own life.
Further research into these names summaries the characters and their behavior very nicely. Alden is of royal blood. He is intuitive and quick-tempered as his name suggests. Edwin struggles with the concept of rules and is stubborn, proud, and impatient. He desires to see the world and is thus thrust into the cruelty of loss.
Though through the course of the story both characters change and become better people, their names also hints at this progress.
But how do you find a suitable name? How do you ensure you picked the right one?
Some people randomly use whatever name pops into their head or go the route of using a name of someone they know. Maybe a popular name? How about the name of the guy/girl you like? These methods aren’t wrong per say, but why not go deeper.
Check out baby name books or search online. You can narrow your search down significantly by specifying the era, genre, etc.
Take a little time to look at the meaning of each name that appeals to you. Say it out loud, let it roll off your tongue. Does it sound appealing? Is it easy to pronounce?
You can look up popular names from the eras similar to your story and go from there. Many authors use names with significant history to add to the meaning of their story.
But what if you really want to name a character after your best friend, Sara. Maybe Sara could become Sarafina. The second one fits well into a fantasy medieval setting as were Sara is more contemporary.
And remember there is more in a name than well—a name, just think of why you were given your name, there usually is always one or two reasons.