On Naming Characters

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Sometimes when writing, you’ll have to come up with arbitrary names for characters. This can be one of the most challenging parts of writing, especially if you don’t put any effort into any part of the writing except the character names. Here, I offer some helpful Do’s and Don’ts for how to choose character names.

DON’T: Name your character after yourself. This will come off as very self-centered, and your editor will see right through it.

DO: Name your character after me. My name is Ginny, and it’d be great to get a little more attention. If possible, could you also include my Twitter handle (@ginnyhogan_) in your character name?


DON’T: Name your character Steve. Steve is a really generic name that everyone picks. Be unique.

DO: Name your character Trevor. Trevor is the name of a boy I kissed when I was 15, so it’s really important that everyone immortalize him by naming their fictional characters after him. Have him kiss another character named Ginny (@ginnyhogan_). But if he’s going to be 15 in your story she needs to be under 18, especially since you’re naming her after a real live person!


DON’T: Give your characters names that all start with the same letter. It’s really confusing to the reader. You can’t have a Sarah, Sandy, Sam, and SalacioFrederico. Those are just generic names!

DO: Name every character Ginny. For variety, some can be named “Ginny Hogan” and others can be named “Ginny @ginnyhogan_” (My first name and Twitter handle).


DON’T: Give all your characters sorority-girl names. You can’t have a Stacy, Ashley, Becky, and Trisha all in the same story! Plus, even though it’s a piece of written work, your reader will know all your characters are white.

DO: Give all your characters my name. I am white, but I wasn’t in a sorority in college. My name is Ginny (@ginnyhogan_).

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