Posts belonging to Category Names

Learning from NaNo: Placeholders

One of the biggest problems I’ve had with my attempt at participating in NaNo is how the emphasis on speed interferes with the ability to produce good names. Names are important to me, to the point where I can ignore the question on Mary Sue litmus tests about whether the name means something relevant because [...]

The Greatest Exception to the One-Name Rule

In yesterday’s post on characters with many names, we covered the rule of thumb that for each character (as long as said character’s identity is known within the narrative, anyway), there should be one name, and you should stick to that name. And in most situations, that’s true. But there is one situation under which [...]

I Have… Many Names

Last week, I talked about characters who don’t have names at all. But what about the ones who have two or more? They might be actual names, cover identities, fancy titles, what have you, but the upshot of it is that there’s more than one name that can be applied to one character, and it’s [...]


I talked a lot, a long time ago, about how to choose characters’ names. But what about when the character just plain doesn’t have one?
There are a lot of downsides for a character not having a name. For one thing, it makes it harder for the audience to refer to the character quickly (though to [...]

The Name: It’s How You Use It

It sometimes seems like a character’s name (or occasionally lack thereof) is one of her most important features; not only can it occasionally serve as a hint about the character’s purpose, background or abilities, but it’s also the fastest, most concise way to sum up a whole mess of qualities in as few syllables as [...]

The Traps of Names

Badly chosen names are practically a correlary to Murphy’s Law; if there is a way a name can get mangled, mispronounced, misinterpreted or otherwise stepped on, the audience is going to find it. Haven’t we all (okay, mostly) had experiences of the sort with our own names in elementary school? Sometimes it’s accidental; emphasis in [...]

Naming and Geography

Naming characters is easy. Naming places is harder, or at least can seem pretty daunting. The best way to work around this is to let art imitate life—just look at all the ways people name places as it stands!
The easiest approach is the explorer-name route—[Person’s] [Population Center Term/Landmark]. It’s concise, it’s straightforward, and there’s room [...]

The Naming of Characters

It’s often asked, “What’s in a name?”
The answer is invariably “more than you think.” Along with giving people definite references for the individuals they describe, names tend to carry images in and of themselves, imply background, and try to fill ten words for every one they include. And that isn’t even getting into the story [...]