You may know me as a developer of company and product names, but I’m also interested in the whole spectrum of naming. In my latest column for the Visual Thesaurus—timed to coincide with National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo—I look at fictional character names and offer some tips for creating memorable ones. I’m grateful to the many successful authors—including Elizabeth McCracken, Andrew Sean Greer, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, and Cathleen Schine—who generously shared their tips and insights with me. The column isn’t paywalled this month, so read (and share) freely!
Blog bonus #1: In the column I include a brief quote from a chapter on literary names in The Language of Names, the 1997 book by Anne Bernays and Justin Kaplan that’s occupied my reference shelf for more than a decade. Here’s a bit more from that chapter:
When the paperback edition of [Anne] Bernays’s first novel, Short Pleasures, was published in 1963, she was sued for a million dollars by a man who had the same unusual surname as one of her characters, a predatory, bisexual summer-theater director. The plaintiff was someone she had never met or heard of.
She discovered, too late, that there were only five people in the Manhattan telephone directory with that name, and they were all related to one another. It cost her thousands simply to defend the suit, which was eventually settled out of court.
Blog bonus #2: Want more naming suggestions, or feedback on your own characters’ names? Schedule a call with me on Clarity.fm. P.S. I also consult on book titles.