Gee, four people whose names begin with S. It's not a crime, but it's not helpful for readers. In my (weak) defense, I named them at separate points in the series, and this is the first time they've all been in one room. But how did I not see this?
Though I'm not sure another writer should take advice from an author who puts four S named characters in one scene, here are some things I consider in naming characters.
- Does the name fit with the client's nationality or residence? For example, Lars could be a name to use in Minnesota (where many people descend from Swedes) but it might sound out of place in Mississippi.
- Is the name so hard to pronounce that readers will stumble over it each time they come across it? Conversely, you could do that deliberately, so a character can be irritated that people don't say his/her name correctly.
- Similar names can be confusing. Rob and Bob should generally not be in scenes together. Nor should Mary and May.
- Are you considering a name that also happens to be that of a close relative or friend? You might not think of your friend as your write, but they may wonder why you used their name -- especially if the character is a bad guy.
- Does the name have such historical significance that your reader will envision that person instead of your character? Personally, I wouldn't name anyone Margaret Thatcher, Hank Aaron, or Benjamin Franklin.
* * * *
Check out Elaine's web page, look at online classes, or sign up for her newsletter.