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Naming Characters - 06/27/2013

In reading the latest novel in an epic fantasy series, I noticed that three unrelated characters, a major one and two important secondary ones, have almost identical names. I can imagine how that coincidence could have happened, if in the development of the earlier books the author created each character separately and assigned him or her the name that sounded appropriate at the time. In a cast of, if not thousands or hundreds, at least dozens, it gets hard to keep all the names distinctive. Yet that’s an important factor in preventing reader confusion—especially in epic fantasies with huge casts. Some authors feature a list of characters at the beginning of each book. Do you think most readers find that kind of thing helpful or intimidating (good grief, I have to keep track of all these people?!)? To me, it’s a little of both. A long cast list can strike me as mind-boggling, but I do appreciate being able to look up a person if I’ve momentarily forgotten who he or she is. Do you find that in creating characters you tend to reuse favorite names (given or surnames)? Or catch yourself starting most of your fictional names with the same few letters or sounds? I’ve noticed that quirk in my own writing. I have to watch myself for lapsing into those patterns and make a conscious effort to venture into areas of the alphabet I’ve previously neglected. (For some reason, I have an odd tropism toward K and L.) Another consideration in naming characters is making them sound ...

Naming Characters

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