First off…Happy Fourth of July!
In our previous blog we discussed adding depth to characterization through the usage of a name. This time we address the issue of repetition and how to keep track of character names. You wouldn’t want all your stories to have a Max or a Tom in them would you? Or even worse both a Max and a Tom?
Variety is good. Having a different array of character names is also refreshing to both the reader and the author.
There are currently over 15 stories I have writing, a few actually completed. Keeping track of the names I have already used can be tedious if not downright maddening. If I were to count each one it would tally over 50 names. Imagine having to open each file to check on what names were used in each.
So how do we make the process easier?
Make a chart, list, or table.
Break the list down by gender, era, etc.
You can also list the story the name was used in to ensure you don’t repeat the name too soon. After all why only use an awesome name only once?
Include a short description of the meaning of each name if you need a reminder as to why you picked it. Also if you plan to use the name again it eliminates researching what it means later on.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. You can add images of people you think your characters resemble for additional reference. It sure beats having to write another list of how your characters look.
Here is a sample of my list, various names haven’t been added yet so the total isn’t correct. The names in bold are the ones being used in my current work, A Prince From Another World.
Names Already Used
And why not keep track of various names that catch your fancy for further use? Doing so can cut research down by over half the time. Add the time you saved by writing their meaning as suggested above and you can use that extra time writing.
Keeping track of character names can be very handy when adding another character. You don’t have to stop writing to search for a good name. This also can be done while taking a break between stories or chapters.
So, start your list if you haven’t yet.