Character Names part 1

I love coming up with character names. Before sharing my own thoughts on name creation, I’d like to share two of my favorite sources from literature and screen.

In classic literature, it’s top hats off to Charles Dickens as my favorite author of character assignation by name. Is there any question that the slimy, falsely humble character in David Copperfield is perfectly named as Uriah Heep? What about Mr. Bumble, the officious beadle of Oliver Twist? Or my personal favorite, to be found in Great Expectations, the ever-stinting Mr. Pumblechook? Bad guys are actually easier to name, but certain ‘good guy’ names are also expertly done, such as the eponymous Oliver Twist. Arguably the greatest good/bad character name combination in literature is found in A Christmas Carol, with the axis of the defenseless innocent Tiny Tim and the grasping villain of Ebeneezer Scrooge. Just saying these names out loud is a pleasure!

In the movie world, it’s a tip of the helmet to Star Wars. While some of the dialogue in the series is (to me) cringe-worthy, I think the names are so iconic it’s hard to even think that they were once spun out of thin air. Luke Skywalker says it all: optimism, adventurism, romance, even a hint of the biblical. And the king of all bad guys, Darth Vader: evil but aristocratic, gothic, an (in)vader. And the perfectly named Yoda, like the Elvis of ethereal beings, even rhymes with ‘yoga.’

OK, I know there are fantastic character names beyond just Star Wars and Dickens. My next blog will talk a bit about how I come up with my own names to identify my characters in a fantasy world.

-Eliot Jordan


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