Aurora’s 7 Tips for Naming Characters in Science Fiction Stories.
These tips are designed to make your writing more accessible to readers. Names can also hint about characteristics instead of stating them bluntly, or add comic effects or emotional implications.
Tip 1: The names of main characters must be easy to pronounce in English. You want your stories to be easy for readers to follow.
Exception: Names of aliens when you want to emphasize their differences from normal humans.
Tip 2: The main characters, especially a romantic couple appearing in the same scenes, must have distinct names that do not look or sound similar. Avoid using Pat and Pete, or Jenny and Jerry. Again, following this tip will improve the readability of your story.
Exception: You might have a set of clones with similar names, or twins where you want to add confusion about their identity.
Tip 3: Alien names should look and sound unusual. When the aliens have two sexes, I prefer to use names with feminine or masculine sounds or endings, like Suzzaine (female) or Radekis (male). You may also want to apply a specific convention to aliens from the same world or race. For example, the giant crustaceans from the planet Brululia are called Gullish and Gulpah (gender neutral since this species has five). The Zarnoths in my Secret Supers Series have names beginning with Z or K, like the villain Rigel Zentor and the ambassador Zharkor.
Tip 4: Names can be cues to important characteristics. For example, the giant flower-like planetoid starring in the Grand Master’s Trilogy is called Amarylla to suggest the shape and pink color of an amaryllis flower. Note, Amarylla is also female.
Another example is the Zarnoth assassin, Karockis or Croaker, in my Secret Supers Series.
Tip 5: You can use names derived from different countries or cultures to indicate diversity. There are lists of these types of names on the internet. For example, Srinivasan and Lira Tong are two friends of the heroine, Violet, in the Grand Master’s Trilogy. Lira is also a cat-like humanoid from the planet Aman-el.
Tip 6: You can create unusual names by modifying names of characters or places in real life or from other books. For example, I took the name Athos from the Three Musketeers, and adapted it into Athanor for the Griffin Grand Master.
Tip 7: Keep a list of names you like or you think would make interesting characters.
I pretty much do the same thing that you do!ReplyDelete
I made the mistake of naming one of my characters with an unpronounceable name. A book group discussing the book made that evident. Learned my lesson. :) Good tips, Aurora.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Diane! Although sometimes you may want to use an unpronounceable name.Delete