I find choosing names for my characters an extremely difficult task. For my initial stories, I took the easy way out by naming only the main and secondary characters. These names were chosen at random; the first name that popped into my head became a character’s name.
But all this changed the day I got a call from a publisher saying that they were interested in publishing my books. After the contract was signed, my editor sat down with me to brainstorm names for every character, even characters whose claim to fame was a solitary appearance in my illustrated books for children. My editor was very firm that readers, especially children, bond with characters and it’s absolutely necessary to give them names. My editor had said that “nameless characters will never become memorable.”
When my story was commissioned for a puffin anthology several years back, the puffin editor called me to ask for few changes in my story, before winding up she asked me why I hadn’t named the watchman’s cat. For me she was just the watchman’s cat : a nameless creature. Not only was I clueless regarding how to answer her question, but there was also silence from my side. How was I supposed to think of a name during a phone conversation. “Can I go with the name I have chosen,” she asked? The name hater that I was I agreed to go along with the name she suggested. Anything to avoid that task.
But all that has changed now. Perhaps the change has come when readers tell me that they identified with Leo, Bunny, Caspar, Kiara (the names of the characters in my earlier books). This appreciation has worked as a major incentive to name all the characters.
For the books I have written now, I take the trouble to give the characters nice and unique names. I even research the names.
I decided that just naming every character wouldn’t be enough. They were given individual personalities to match the names. Each name conjured up an image of the teacher or a student fitting that name. Nowadays I am always on the lookout for new names.
What about you all? Do you name your characters with the first name that jumps into your mind, or are these names the product of a meticulous research and hard work. Do you have any name tips to share with us?