What’s In a Name? Everything

Fiction Frenzy

This week a writer called me. She’s had an unfortunate experience. A couple of months ago she published her first novel on Amazon. The novels’ a typical “vampire with a touch of humor” tale, she says. Everything was fine, she was even making a few sales.

Then, via her Facebook page, she received an angry email message from another writer. Who has her name. Not only does this writer have exactly the same name, she’s also publishing paranormals… Eek.

On the very same day, she received other messages, from fans of this other writer, castigating her for trying to cash in on a writer’s name… Presumably Outraged Writer had alerted her fan base.

Not wanting to annoy or mislead people, she unpublished her novel immediately, and apologized.

Moral of this sad tale: before you publish your book, make sure that another author isn’t using your name. If you have a very common name, this may be a challenge. Even if the others with the same name aren’t authors, change your name — use a pseudonym.

To look for others with your name, check:


Just another thing to be aware of…

Now, let’s talk about character names in your novel.

Names in your novel

Some writers want to get their leads’ names exactly right. They have trouble starting a book until they find the “perfect” name.

If you feel this way, try to talk yourself out of that feeling. Your character was named by his parents. His entire history is bound up in his name. In your first draft, you’ll still be discovering your characters. Chances are that the perfect name will occur to you after the first draft, so be happy with “placeholder” names at first.

Let’s look at what you should keep in mind when naming your characters.

* Ethnicity and family background. Where was your character born? Where were his parents born? What name did his family give him, and why? Does his name say anything about his parents’ aspirations for their child?

* What’s your character’s nickname? Who gave it to him? Why, and when? Is he embarrassed by this nickname? Perhaps he’s not aware that he’s been given a nickname by his co-workers.

* What decade was your character born in? In the US in the 1980s for example, the most popular boy’s name was Michael and the most popular girl’s name was Jessica, according to this page.

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Angela Booth is a top copywriter, multi-published author, and writing teacher. She offers many guides, courses and classes to help writers to enhance their skills on her websites. She also provides inspiration and motivation for writers on her writing blogs. Angela has been writing successfully since the late 1970s, and was online in the 1980s, long before the birth of the Web. Her business books have been widely published.