"Gettting A Handle on Naming Characters" is the title of an interesting bit posted on The Guardian newspaper blog by Ben Meyers recently. He talks about the importance of the right name for a fictional character and the idea of a character 'growing' into a name.
This got me thinking about the more successful character names. What works for you as a character name? I suppose for everyone it's a bit different. I have been known, I confess, to stop reading a series of books because the main character's name was just such a turn-off. Won't say what, won't say who and won't say why - it's my secret to keep. (And yet I KNOW the books are very good and I'm probably missing out. One of these days I'll have to get over this.)
So with my penchant for lists alive and well and ready, at any moment, to spring into action, I thought I'd list some 20 or so character names I've always liked.
- Odd Thomas named by Dean Koontz.
- Hondo named by Louis L'Amour
- Jack Reacher named by Lee Child
- Atticus Finch named by Harper Lee
- Marianne Dashwood named by Jane Austen
- Elvis Cole and Joe Pike named by Robert Crais
- Flavia de Luce named by Alan Bradley
- Captain Hook named by J.M. Barrie
- Spenser named by Robert Parker
- Armand Gamache named by Louise Perry
- Dodsworth named by Sinclair Lewis
- Hercule Poirot named by Agatha Christie
- Jane Marple named by Agatha Christie
- Achille Poirot named by Agatha Christie
- Peter Blood named by Rafael Sabatini
- Scaramouche named by Rafael Sabatini
- Arkady Renko named by Martin Cruz Smith
- Elizabeth Bennett named by Jane Austen
- Fitzwilliam Darcy named by Jane Austen
- Jack Twist named by Annie Proulx
- Jane Eyre named by Charlotte Bronte
- Sam Spade named by Dashiell Hammett
- Chet and Bernie named by Spencer Quinn
- Ben Quick named by William Faulkner
- Dido Twite named by Joan Aiken
- Richard Jury named by Martha Grimes (though I've always hated the name of his best friend Melrose Plant - I mean, really.)
- Amelia Peabody named by Elizabeth Peters
- Samuel Grapearbor named by Jordan Ellenberg
- Harry Potter named by J.K. Rowling
- The Great Gildersleeve named by I don't know who.
- Sherlock Holmes named by Arthur Conan Doyle
- Mycroft Holmes named by Arthur Conan Doyle
- Sebastian Flyte named by Evelyn Waugh
- Winnie the Pooh named by A.A. Milne
Well, I'd better stop for now. But it occurs to me looking at this list that I like both colorful, flavorful names and names that are short, tough and sound good spoken aloud. AND that most of these are male names. Hmmm. Well, I do seem to prefer male protagonists, no question.
Of course the names must have something to do with the character - don't you think? A good name will, thereafter, invoke the character instantly and form a picture in the imagination. I suppose, a good character name is a sort of 'brand.' It's not easy to trifle with brands. Most of them are permanent.
Off the top of your head, can you think of character names you've liked and remembered over the years?