Choosing character’s names

choosing character's names in a novel

My character’s names often change as a novel develops. Sometimes the original name just doesn’t seem to suit the way the character or their backstory develops.

There’s a theory called nominative determinism which speculates that your given name might define what you do in life. I don’t subscribe to that theory, but names do need to fit the characters.

I used the name Marcus in a novel recently, but you have to resolve the possessive suffix, either Marcus’ or Marcus’s. I would instinctively go for the former, but apparently this is a contentious point. I resolved it by changing his name to Martin.

Has anyone else experienced this problem?

For my current novel in progress all the characters have been given names from the Old Testament – no idea why, but it appears to be working and it feels ‘right’ for the story – for me at least.

They are Ethan, Abby (Abigail), Hannah, Isaac, Martha, Beth (Bethany), Daniel, Simon, Peter and Mary.

In my head there’s a connection between my novel, set 100 years in the future, and names from over 2000 years ago.

Does anyone have a better way of choosing character names?

Book Titles

It’s just a matter of getting those pesky little letters in the right order
And there are only 26 letters in the alphabet – so how hard can it be?

woman sat on floor on laptop

Every now and then my mind gets sidetracked onto book titles and I hear potential candidates during everyday conversations. I ought to stop and write them down because I have usually forgotten them by the time I find a pen and a quiet moment.

Then there are song lyrics. There I am minding my own business, a song playing in the background, and I hear a phrase that sounds like a great book title. It even happens during supper parties, but as nobody else shares my obsession I try to keep quiet about it.

In a moment of desperation, a few years ago, I tried using an online title generator – that was as useful as a chocolate frying pan.

Here are just a few of the potential book titles I’ve culled from lyrics (I don’t claim they haven’t already been used).

Caught in the Race
Belonging to the Living
The First Time We Fell
The Life Museum
Dancing to Forget
Blue World
Everybody’s Watching
Metal Thorns
Restless Hearts
Autumn Falling
Terminally Pretty
A Piece of Time
One Thing in Common
Suicide Blonde
At the Drop of a Name
Neptune’s Daughter
Blinded by Daylight
Flowers for a Wedding
All the Time
Fancy Things
Dangerous Boys
Magicians Never Tell
Walking on Clouds
Touch and Run
Losers and Fools
A Stranger’s Touch
Lucky Girl
Wasted Time
Dreams About Tomorrow
What Was Left Behind
Ribbons and Bows
Across the Sea
What is Yours
In the Name of the Past
A Small Family
Not for the Money
Running Everday

Does anyone else share this obsession?