What’s in a name?

From one author to another: how important are character names to you? (Of course, all dear readers are invited to read on.)

Do you carefully search and select names for your characters? For all of them? Or just for the main character(s)?

I’m quite picky about names of the main characters in my stories. I usually know what I want from them. This means that I know if the name has to stand out or if it has to be very plain. Usually when one of my main characters has a secretive side I am prone to giving her or him a rather simple name, to emphasise the difference.

In the case of Hilda, my favourite wicked witch, there was a bit of a glitch in that scheme. I had originally no idea that she would become popular, so I just grabbed a name from the shoe-box of witches’ names (a.k.a. google), which was Grimhilda, and turned her into “Hilda for friends”. After so many stories it is no option to change her name, but that’s okay. I like Hilda. (Who would not want to be her friend?)

For my sci-fi stories of Breen and Kue I spent a lot of time thinking about the names. Sius Breen and Inui Kue are characters from a planet called Odis (Gods know where that name came from). Originally I had the idea of calling the planet ‘Breen’, but that did not happen. (In case you wonder about these stories: they are not officially published yet. They may be, someday. You can find them on the writer’s page of my website.) It was fascinating creating their world and culture.

For side-characters I am quite fast in deciding on names. Usually they are not that important, especially when they are ‘disposable’. Characters that I intend to make reappear will get a more thought through name, though. The closer they are to the mains, the better names they have.

“What’s in a name?” According to me, a lot.