The Generic Villain on Granted Names and Titles

We all know how important intimidation value is, so it’s not surprising that we make sure our minions sound impressive from the moment they’re introduced. The trouble is, many of us really aren’t that good at it, giving them dramatic titles or noun-phrase names that instead of invoking trembling bring forth raised eyebrows, muffled snorts [...]

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 [...]

Impractical Applications (Choice of Names)

As I’ve noted in my riffs about choosing which name to apply to a given character when, I’ve done a lot with characters who take cover identities or otherwise need to be referred to under different monikers, ranging from “Eh, use the same name” to actually referring to them by different names. Half the fun [...]

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 [...]