You have your character biographies written, you know the story you want to tell, but how do you name your characters?
Here is the thing about archetypes/stereotypes within genres, they usually work. Of course you can do something different and break the mold, but people have been using these methods for years for a reason.
Ed. Eddie. or Edward?
The hero usually has a strong name. Rather than name your hero Eddie, he is usually referred to as Edward. Eddie was the name of the dog on Frasier. Eddie makes it sound as though your hero is twelve years old working on his Math homework after school. Edward does not. Edward was a name given to kings. It has a sophistication to it. With that being said, your hero’s mother probably looks at her forty-year-old son and calls him Eddie because that is her baby. To the heroine, he will probably be Ed or Edward. Not Eddie.
This is merely an example. If your heroine refers to the hero jokingly, that is a whole separate conversation. This is simply meant to offer an illustration of how to name your hero.
The Go-to Names?
Jack. Jonathan. Adam. Alexander. Caleb. David. Derek. Grant. Jason. James. Luke. Lucas.
Strong, grounded names, are used for a reason. Here is where I will be honest. Romance writers use masculine names to symbolize and refer to masculinity. There, I said it…well, wrote it. These names are typically for men and are therefore used in romance novels for heroes. Of course you can have ambiguous gender names like Taylor, but those are used less frequently. Authors only have a set number of words to tell their story, so if writers can save words with usually a strong name to represent a strong man, they will.
How unique is too unique?
Referring back to my last paragraph, be careful with over-the-top names. Use these sparingly and within reason. If your hero or heroine has a truly unique name that people would not normally know how to pronounce or spell (without having read it in a book), that might become a concern with publishers. When going on tour or giving interviews, they want you to focus on the characters and stories. If a name is too over-the-top, it might detract from this.
Rose. Lily. Daisy.
If you walk into a flower shop, you can find inspiration for your heroine’s name. Heroines are meant to be vulnerable, relatable, and unknowingly beautiful; flowers seem to capture that. As I mentioned above, names become representations. If your female lead is named Lily, there is an immediate response within readers. It can’t be helped. They will think of her as delicate, pretty, and natural. This is where life and writing separate. Writers use names with a reason. In life people grow into names. In novels, names hold meanings because they have to.
Heroines are given traditionally feminine names, while their heroes are given traditionally masculine names. You will see Sara, Julia, Julie, Stephanie, Emma, and so forth, in romance novels. It is easy to identify who is who this way.
With all this being said, write what you want to write. Guidelines are just that…guidelines. There is always room to play and grow. Write your characters with intention and purpose and your story will flourish.
Stay kind + creative & make today a great reading + writing day!