Sorry, I didn’t get your name.

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Don’t forget to click the purple button to see what everyone else has to say on this week’s subject. It’s at the end of my post.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

There’s a very simple answer to this week’s prompt.

I don’t.

There. That’s me finished for this week, what shall I do now?


I suppose that’s not a very satisfactory response. Although it answers the question, it doesn’t justify itself in any way. Let me elaborate.

My novels appear in my head fully formed, as a film that plays on a screen that only I can see. I watch the action and write it down. Because of that, everyone who appears in my mind’s eye knows who they are before we start.

They already have names when I meet them. I accept the ones they use, why wouldn’t I?

Writing in such diverse genres as Sci-fi and Fantasy and in the quasi-Victorian world of Steampunk, I’m glad I don’t have to think up names for people (or places).

I suppose that people who don’t know how I work think I might choose a character’s name because it fits or suggests some part of the plot.

Not at all. In fact, it can be quite the opposite.

For example;

In my novel We Are Saul, the genius who designs a lot of the technology used in the story was called Dawn Le Gan when I first met her.

As the other characters also told me it was her name, that was the one I used. I never thought anything about it, except that it made her sound slightly exotic.

Imagine my surprise when a reviewer said this.

“… with a brilliant artificial intelligence and neuroscience genius Dawn Le Gan (a tongue-in-cheek nod toward AI and Generative Adversarial Networks – GANs)” 

I have to say that I didn’t do it on purpose. I’d never heard of a GAN before. As far as I was concerned, it was just the character’s name when she appeared. Although people would say that I must have heard it somewhere and filed it away, I disagree.

Instead of glibly explaining it like that, it makes me wonder about who or what is pushing my pen.

What do you think?

As a writer, do you choose character names, or do they choose their own?

As a reader, do you get (or expect) clues about the characters from the names they have?

Let me know below.

Then, please check out what my fellow writers have to say about this week’s topic.

Until next time.

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9 Responses

    • Richard Dee

      I did at first, now I just accept it and let them get on with telling the story.

  1. Steven

    Originally my lead was going to be Archer, not Crow. But then the first name, Edison, came to me and Edison Archer just wasn’t working out for me. Then Crow hit, out of nowhere. Now I cannot imagine him being anything but Edison Crow.

    Some I’ve looked up to ensure they fit the “era” enough, but most, like you, just appear pre-named.

    • Richard Dee

      Some just fit, I don’t care what they are, as long as they feel like they belong.

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