Welcome to the second part of iUniverse Tips on Naming your Characters. Previously we covered getting to know your character and giving them their first name. In Part 2 we look at surnames and how to work it into your characters personality and position in your storyline. We follow this by naming your secondary characters and how important they are to giving your story body and richness. Our final section covers the genre you are writing. Do the characters fit into your wild west novel or not? Supplying your cast with the wrong name will make them unbelievable to your readers.
iUniverse stresses the importance of getting the right surnames
Up until the 12th century surnames are said not to have existed. Later a person got their name from such things as their occupation, nickname and place of birth. Some even took their name, such as a country estate worker, by combining such things as their fathers name and the place they worked.
It was only around the 17th century that we have names that we now recognize in its present form. A popular way of naming one’s family was by using either the father or mother’s name, as the root and adding the suffix –son, such as Donaldson or Williamson.
If you are using historical figures in your adventure, then yes you can use it without much trouble. But be careful how you show this character within your story. A good idea is to take a real name and change it slightly, allowing you to portray a character trait you like, without upsetting historians.
iUniverse naming your secondary characters
These characters are just as important as your main hero or heroine. Using what we have outlined above is imperative, but you can add a little flourish to their names to bring out their characteristics and personalities.
Going back to our character Scarlett O’Hara, this story is a perfect example of secondary character flourishes. Scarlett’s high strung Aunt Pittypat Hamilton and her squeaky voiced maid Prissy. Two very well named characters that are memorable. Just don’t go and name characters that are similar, unless they are twins of the same sex. Doing this will surely confuse your reader.
Just remember what the reader will expect from reading your book. Think about the image you are trying to give them. If you are writing a western, using a name like “The Nevada Kid”, or “Two gun kid” will give you the feel for the period. Of course these can still be put into a different era such as the Nevada kid could be a card player set in the 1960s or Two gun kid in 1920s Chicago. Just imagine what a name conjures up in your mind before naming them.
In the End…
After months of painstaking writing and characterizations we are sure you will be happy with the result, but will your readers and critics. You can never please everyone, and expect to hear someone giving one of characters name a blowing over. Put this down to experience and see if you agree with them, it might be that they are right, who knows?
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via iUniverse Writer’s Tips