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Guide to character names

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By Animedemon001   |   Watch
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Published: July 29, 2014

For starters I’m gonna put it out there that a cool name =/= a cool character!!! You got that? If people were to put more time into fully developing their character instead of trying to make them cool and edgy, this site (and every other writing site ever) would be much better. Just because your character’s name is Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way, doesn’t mean you get to ignore everything every character tutorial has ever said and still have a decent story.

 

Think, “Would a parent give their kid this name?”

A simple question to ask yourself, if the answer is no, then I suggest you find a new name.

 

 Oddly spelt name

Examples: Jayk, Alix, and Haylee (Note: I have a Sim named Haylee because I couldn’t figure out how to spell Hayleigh).

Just, no. These are not okay, and are one of the lowest forms of trying to make a character seem cool. In fact, it’s just plain lazy. It would also really suck for your character to have to always correct people whenever their name is written.

 

Very looooooonnng names

Examples: Lucas Edward Jackson Way, and Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way.

These are not that great. What kind of character needs 15 middle names (Okay, there are a few exceptions, like royalty)? Really, how do you expect us to remember all that?

 

Naming the character for a trait

Examples: Kitsune (Fox) for a fox girl, Neko (Cat) for a cat girl, Hikari (Light/fire) for an Uchiha (Note: I had a Mary Sue named Hikari).

A lot of people will say that it’s a great idea to name your character after their personality or something about them (If your OC is a Warriors cat, naming them after their pelt color is fine). But I say LOL, nope. It’s very cliché at this point in time.

Did your parents know what your personality would be when you were born? Did they know what you’d do with your life? No, they did not. You were just a little baby, and all you did was scream, cry, and wet your pants, so why is your character any different? It’s understandable that a parent could be wishful and name their child Honesty or Takashi (Means warrior) in hopes that they’d live up to their names. As for Neko and Kitsune, why would the parents name their child after what they are?

 

Similar twin names

Examples: Katie and Cattie, Jake and Jace.

I don’t hate this one as much as the others, as it is actually done in real life. But please, for the sake of the reader, if you feel the need to do this, make the names different enough so they won’t be constantly mixed up (No, that is not cute).

 

A Japanese name for a non-Japanese character

Examples: Sakura for an English Princess, Abu for a Chinese warrior, and Ruby for a Native American girl.

Please note that I am talking about all characters with names from different cultures, not just Japanese (That’s just the most common one). For some of these, the characters parents wouldn’t be aware of the other cultures in the first place, so it just makes no sense. People usually give their children names from their own culture, so the only way a character could really have a different one was if they were adopted (This counts as belonging).

 

Bonus: Nicknames

I wasn’t gonna put this, but I decided it needed to be there.

Examples: Hawk, Q-tip, etc.

Nicknames are good because they can have nothing to do with realism and be really cool or bad. Keep in mind that a character with a really short name would not need a nickname (Unless it was a code name or more of a taunt) because everybody can remember their names. Nicknames are more for characters like Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way (May I suggest Mary Sue?).

If you character has a nickname, it’s best to tell how they got it. Are they called Gabe because Gabriel is too hard to remember? Or are they called saltine because they eat a ton of crackers?

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© 2014 - 2019 Animedemon001
I'll say this once more: a cool name =/= a cool character!!!

Okay then, bye.*Free Icon/Emote* Nutella Pusheen (OMG) 
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Comments26
anonymous's avatar
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TGFan55's avatar
I found this OC a while back, how's his name? ycm.wikia.com/wiki/Yuga_Senku
Ausland42's avatar
Ausland42Hobbyist Writer
Korben Dallas: What's your name?
Leeloo: Leeloo Minaï Lekatariba-Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat.
Korben Dallas: Good. That... that whole thing's your name, huh? Do you have, uh... a shorter name?
Leeloo: Leeloo.
Ausland42's avatar
Ausland42Hobbyist Writer
I know people in real life who have oddly spelled names. They have an ongoing battle always correcting people on how to spell their name... for life.  So I don't think it is unrealistic that someone has a oddly spelled name. Parents do that sometimes in real life. That being said, if everybody has a weirdly spelled name, then I would get a bit weirded out, unless the story was about an alternate universe, and the alternate spellings are part of the quirk of that alternate world.
Dragonwolf505's avatar
Dragonwolf505Hobbyist General Artist
I have my own weird nicknames for my friends, and the funny thing is one of my friends actally goes by a nickname, and then I made a nickname of that, so she has a nickname of a nickname of her real name.
pengiuan494's avatar
is marry and Carrie different enough? 
Animedemon001's avatar
Animedemon001Hobbyist General Artist
Yes.
LigerTaco's avatar
LigerTacoStudent General Artist
Darn you are just epic! Have cookie! Pixel Gingerbread Cookie 
SpAtkplusTwelve's avatar
SpAtkplusTwelveHobbyist Digital Artist
Eh, I think it's okay to name a character after their personalities as long as it's subtle. For example in The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, the love interests have the names David and Zane. While it was unintentional, both of those names mean "beloved". However, it isn't obvious what their names mean unless you actually look it up. It's just a little bonus in meaning for those who know it.
Animedemon001's avatar
Animedemon001Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, that's so small that it wouldn't really matter,and actually kinda a cute little theme thing. But those people naming their cat girls Neko (Most everybody knows it means cat in Japanese) are not excusable.
SpAtkplusTwelve's avatar
SpAtkplusTwelveHobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, that's true. If you name a cat girl Neko, it's like naming your dog Dog. I think names with meanings pertaining to their characters are good, when done right. Not "She's honest, let's name her Honesty!" or "He's a fox, let's name him Todd!". And just because it is in a different language, that doesn't mean it's subtle.
Animedemon001's avatar
Animedemon001Hobbyist General Artist
Yes. Naming your dog Dog in Simlish = Subtle. Naming your dog Dog in Japanese or another language as frequently pondered on this site = Not subtle at all.
MarissaSunshine's avatar
MarissaSunshineHobbyist Filmographer
Unfortunately, oddly spelt names do occur in real life. I have met people whose names are "Haylee" or "Krystle". I feel very sorry for them.

And of course, as we both know in fanfiction, the rules of the universe apply to a character's name. While I wouldn't name a character "Sea Shore" in any other setting, it'd work just fine for an MLP OC, but only there. ;)

*keeps coming up with pony names on a dime, resulting in too many pony names she doesn't know what to do with* @_@
Animedemon001's avatar
Animedemon001Hobbyist General Artist
I feel the last part. So many good ideas, so little time.
MarissaSunshine's avatar
MarissaSunshineHobbyist Filmographer
Very much so for many people. Us included!
EpicPersonCool's avatar
EpicPersonCoolHobbyist Digital Artist
I have an oddly spelt name (Evalyn instead of Evelyn) and Hayleigh can be spelt in many different ways (Haleigh, Hayley, and *gasp* Haylee, etc,) but other than that, nice job! This is good advice! 4/5 stars
4SteveNelsonMiloan4's avatar
4SteveNelsonMiloan4Hobbyist General Artist
I found this funny.
I agree with this, but still funny.
Plus, Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way could just be a terrible character trying to be a Mary Sue.
TheifysSoul's avatar
TheifysSoulHobbyist Traditional Artist
ill be honist, one of my charicters is a veration of my own name XD simply because it was how people though it was spelt before i corrected them XD and its actually worked out really well XD i think no ones told me otherwise
Shian-selene's avatar
Shian-seleneHobbyist Digital Artist
I swear there is a kid on my village called Jeikob. But, well, Spain is different....
StellarFairy's avatar
StellarFairyHobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm really good at coming up with great names for my OCs. It isn't a problem for me, as long as they:
-suit the character and fandom perfectly
-are not over used
-are not too long or too difficult to pronounce
-blend well with the character's culture

Of course just because the character has a cool name doesn't mean it automatically makes him/her cool. There are other traits to make the character more likeable, other than having the perfect name.
randomfriends101's avatar
randomfriends101Hobbyist Traditional Artist
My villains name id Dimentra but the story takes place I the middle ages and my other characters names are things like Enver, Drake, Ignacia, and Amphridite but do you think Dimentria is to weird of a name?
Animedemon001's avatar
Animedemon001Hobbyist General Artist
Nope, seems odd enough to fit with the others. 
randomfriends101's avatar
randomfriends101Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Kay thanks!
ZetaRESP's avatar
ZetaRESPHobbyist General Artist
I have a character who I rehashed from a MS/GS I had before. His name is now Skyler Jester Harken and the reason for the middle name is actually a minor plot point in the story, as he has to clarify that yes, his red and blue spiky hair is the reason of that name and that his father was a jerk, a trait he caught easily and a bit exceedingly (in fight, he'll make Gary Oak look kind; out of it, the amounts of fucks he would give are limited to none). His first name, an unisex name, was picked up by her panicked mother who was shocked to find herself pregnant (she was drunk, so she banged up and unknown somebody, she knows it's an Indian because her son is kinda redskin, but she recalls a party happened nearby an Indian reservation and several of the locals went there to have fun). When she gave him to his adoptive father, Col. Harken, he noticed the little spiky hair and noted dutifully he would grow to have a jester head (he did), which made the little boy laugh and repeat the word Jester. The col. then thought it may be a good middle name, so it stuck. His two nicknames are "Jesterhead" and "Punk Rocker Jerk!!", the former is because he has a jester head, the latter is both about his normal clothing and normal demeanor. He goes by a nom-de-guerre as SkyHacker, which others even mention it to be kinda unimaginative, as Sky is short of Skyler and Hacker sounds a lot like Harken. Seriously, his story hangs so many lampshades it burns.
ElithianFox's avatar
ElithianFoxHobbyist Digital Artist
How about made up cultures? In my story, there is a culture that was heavily influenced by another culture and its language, and they eventually started mixing. Alternate spelling of names appeared, for example, a person from one culture will find the name spelled as Kevin perfectly normal, the other will find Kevin weird and will spell is as Cafun. For us, it's an 'edgy' way of spelling a name, but etymologically, it makes sense. 
anonymous's avatar
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