It’s not uncommon for newbie writers to get lost in the thrill of birthing a new idea, albeit vague. And next thing, they’re naming their characters – Cayden, Jayden, Zayden, and Hayden...
While you want a fancy name for your characters, it's important to understand that they need all the elements of a good character to complement whatever name they’re given, and relate to the plot, regardless of the genre.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚 𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞
A name is merely a figurehead without a distinct definition of its personality. There has to be something attached to your characters’ names; it could be an experience, a major struggle, or a triumph. Have you ever read a story or watched a movie and felt like you had a close relationship with the characters in real life? That’s the power of well-developed characters.
One of the names and characters I consider iconic is Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. When you think of this character, you think of strength; a tough independent, and resourceful woman with a bow and arrow. Her personality, mannerisms, and story all fused to complement her powerful name.
When creating your characters, figure out why it’s important for your reader and viewer to follow their story. Your characters should carry an aura of distinctiveness that sparks emotions. Your characters should feel alive.
𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐞𝐞 𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐚 𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐞:
𝟏. 𝐀 𝐆𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 / 𝐏𝐥𝐨𝐭:
Three things make a great movie; the story, the story, and the story. And likewise for a great book. If your characters’ stories progressively rub off emotions on the faces of your readers and viewers, you’ll successfully ignite their interest, evoke their emotions, and captivate them all the way to the very last page and scene. I don’t see how anyone could lose interest in characters like John Wick and Kaul Hilo from the Green Bone Saga. Your character needs a great story to thrive.
A well-crafted story causes your readers and viewers to be invested in the characters; the need to feel the connection and the similarities in their life experiences.
To make your characters intriguing and very relatable, you need to be intentional about creating a personality and build emotions around that personality. This way, you’ll be doing a great job first, and your audience will deeply resonate with your story and connect with your characters on a deeper level, giving them an undeniably smooth read or watch. For example, your character is George the Plumber but there are a million Georges who are also plumbers. What would set your George apart is his personality which you would create from his beliefs, ideals and perspectives.
𝟑. 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐪𝐮𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲:𝟑. 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐪𝐮𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲:
Make your characters memorable by perfectly defining and weaving their backstory; past occurrence, experience, belief, or value that’s influencing the present. This has the power to influence your audience’s perception of things and even the choices they make later on. Naturally, we often define experiences in our lives, and when we can find ourselves on a page or screen, we resonate with the characters on a deeper level.
In summary, your character needs all of the above-mentioned elements for an identity that goes beyond the name. To craft characters that resonate with you and your readers beyond their names, you need to delve deeply into the roots of their background, character, emotions, and experiences for a better interaction between you, your character, and your audience.