I asked some of my author friends how important are the names of the characters in their books to them? Do they spend agonizing hours deciding on their names?
Here are their answers.
Some names were particularly important in ‘In the Light Of Darkness’. Because the story demanded that two of the main characters belong to a certain religion. And because I was placing the story on a fictional island, loosely modeled on Goa/Pondicherry, they also needed to have a certain ancestry in order to lend authenticity to the story. So I needed a common Indian name of Portuguese decent.
But otherwise, I rarely spend much time thinking about the names. I start with a name that deems fit at the moment and as the character develops, I am either proven right or a better name dawns on me.
Names are usually extremely important for me, though I don’t usually spend agonizing hours deciding them anymore, for I have probably done that already and have a list of names I plan to use! The names, in many ways, helps me shape up the character.
However, in Confessions on an Island the three leads, for the most part of the book, remain nameless. The names of the author and abductor are revealed in the end, while that of the island is never revealed for a reason. When you read the book, you will realize why, and in the process also hopefully get an idea about why names are so important!
I enjoy picking names for my protagonists. I tend to go for names that are easy to remember and pronounce but have something unusual about them. In The Indian Tycoon… my protagonist’s name is Maya and I chose it because it gelled with her goal of revenge against her enemy. Would it all be an illusion? Or would she get what she wanted?
Yes, names of characters (especially the leads) are very important. I believe this works in three ways.
a. It’s the writer’s personal choice, so invariably certain biases follow. (Think of Karan Johar and his Anjalis and Nainas, OR, Sooraj Barjatya and “Prem”)
b. For the reader, the names are windows into the psyche of the character. (Every character in the Harry Potter series has a certain intended association behind her/his name, which in turn goes a long way in defining the character)
c. It is also a window into the mind of the writer, for the most part.
If you want to learn more about their creative journey, read their entire interview by clicking on their names.
Do you agree that names are important?