Naming characters can be very problematic as an author. Some of the cleverest names have come from the author playing with words and enabling the name to reflect the character. Here are some of my favourites and why I like them so much.
Heroes of stories don’t always have heroic names. Harry Potter immediately comes to mind – a plain ordinary name for an extraordinary boy. LM Montgomery made much of her heroine’s name – Anne of Green Gables insisted on her name being spelt ‘Anne-with-an-e’ as plain ‘Ann’ was too ordinary. Oliver Twist, the orphan who dared to ask for more by Charles Dickens: that name suggests that his life is not going to be simple, but might have many twists. Eleanor and Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, have names that suit themselves. Eleanor has a normal, sensible name while her sister has a poetic name which suits her personality.
Some characters are named after their characteristics such as Beauty in Beauty and the Beast. The March sisters in Little Women have normal names, but their surname suggests the wartime that they live in and that their father daily faces. Cinderella is traditionally named because she is always sweeping up the cinders, but it is also a quite pretty name. Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan is clever because his name is actually Greek – Perseus – but it is shortened to reflect modern times. The stories are based on Greek heroes of mythology so the main protagonist’s name is appropriate. The characters of Wind in the Willows actually run a little against type. Ratty is a good friend to Toad, who, although silly is never anything more than that. Badger does indeed conjure up a name that reflects sense.
Pip in Great Expectations is short for Philip Perrip, a great name. Catcher in the Rye has Scout which is a really cool name for a girl. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has Charlie Bucket which somehow reflects the poverty of his situation. Sherlock Holmes is such an unusual name, which has gone down into popular culture as the name of the greatest detective ever – you almost forget he is fictional. By contrast, his sidekick Dr Watson has a solid and sensible name.
Feel free to leave your favourite character’s name in the comments. There are many more great ones out there.