Author’s aside: did anyone get the point of the photo in the header? It’s the demolition of the Marbro Theater in Chicago…just as I’m demolishing this blog site to bring it in line to its original intention. Ah, never mind. Inside jokes should stay inside.
So how do you figure out what to name your characters when you write fiction? You want something memorable–something short and to the point that you aren’t going to repeatedly misspell. You want the name to sound cool. At the same time, it has to be a name that a real person might have.
For example, I am currently writing a novel about a blackmailer in 1920’s Hollywood–I always write about 1920’s Hollywood so that isn’t any news. My problem was what to name him. Orginally I came up with “Nathan Valentine.” Well, actually I really liked the name “Nathan Explosion” from Cartoon Swim’s “Metalapocalypse” series, but that was taken–and its wonderfully ridiculous. “Nathan Valentine,” however is too long and unwieldy, so I tried for something shorter. At one point, I had “Mace Valentine,” and then “Mace Winston,” but that sounded a little too much like “Mace Windu” from the Star Wars series…and, come on, who really has a name like Mace Winston? And being set in Los Angeles in 1920’s, you couldn’t have too many ethic names unless they were Spanish, so in the end I settled on “Nathan Boyd” as the name for my blackmailer. I suppose there could be someone out there with that name and it’s unusual enough–in other worse, it’s not “Joe Smith.” I’ve got dibs on “Balthazar Sandow” and “Thor Johnson” as future names for my heroes.
Studies say the most macho names contain the Letter, “K” or a hard “C”. Frank, Buck, Mack, Jack, Duke, Chuck,and Luke all are tough names for vigilantes, cops and private detectives. Connor and Curt are also common. On the other hand, no male character should be called “Tyler,” “Skip” “Bo” or, God forbid, “Brice.” Last names in fiction, usually end in “N” for some reason, and please avoid using a variation of”Cock,” as in Hancock, Peacock or La Cock. All they’ll do is laugh at you.
Villains, probably evil doctors and professors, need to have quasi-Germanic sounding names. I’m sorry, but there is no exception to this rule. The greatest villain name ever devised is “Rotwang” from the movie, “Metropolis,” but nowadays it’s too close to a walking dick joke to be taken seriously.
For women–the more extravagant the better. Could there be a better name for an actress than Asia Argento? That’s a real name and she happens to be a real actress, daughter of famed director Dario A. If you’re male and have a hard time writing female characters, as I do, giving them a memorable name makes easier to reference them in your work. My female leads in my new novel are named “Marina Vega” and “Justine Vale.” Both names belonged to real people from 1923. I’ve also got dibs on the names “Catalina Champion” and “Amanda Gravesite,” both of which also happen to be names of real women.
You are free to disregard my advice–and maybe you should. Name your characters whatever you like. It’s a free country…still. But should you choose to go with “Brice LaCock,” as your lead character’s name and the “Ridiculous Police” knock on your door, don’t say I didn’t warn you.