We've all stressed over the titles of our novels but what about the name of our characters? If you're like me, you put just as much thought into the names of your characters as you do the title of your novel. Actually, I put more work into naming my characters because the title usually comes along naturally at some point. But the names of my characters are a part of them and they affect a reader's first impression and perception. But Heather, a rose is a rose and all that right? Yes and no.
If I told you my protagonist's name was Poindexter that immediately forms a picture in your mind does it not? Don't worry, that isn't really my protagonist's name. A name can be nerdy, masculine, feminine, beautiful, or complicated, among other things, which is exactly why you should choose carefully. Usually if the name feels right to you then it probably is right for your character. But you must be aware of how it sounds and feels to other people.
Consider the name Poseidon. If you didn't already know that name and associate it with Greek mythology it would sound very foreign and possibly be hard to pronounce for some. Readers might stumble over it and it would therefore become a crutch in the book, something that slows action. However going the opposite direction and using an overly common name might not be something you want to do either. It could be boring and unmemorable to your readers. Now I know that when I say Edward most of you know immediately who I'm talking about and would argue that he is very memorable and nowhere near boring. But Lestat and Louie are just as memorable and certainly more distinctive.
Think of your own name, it has meaning or sentimental value to your parents, some kind of connection to their family or past. I like to use names that have to do with my character's heritage. Of course that can be tough in fantasy but for paranormal or urban fantasy that's the rule I follow. It adds depth and interest. When in doubt grab a book of baby names. I have several I use as references and they've been more than worth their weight in gold. Don't have a baby name book handy? There's always the internet. Find that balance between obscure and common and in the end, go with your heart.
Check out this great article by Writer's Digest on How To Give Your Character The Perfect Name: http://writersdigest.com/article/how-to-give-your-character-the-perfect-name/