Three Tips for Naming Characters

by Katie Axelson | 65 comments

The scene's clear in your head. The characters are running around creating drama, making their own lives difficult but yours easier with every passing word. Until you realize you don't know the name of that brown-eyed beauty and her Prince Charming lacks an identity of his own.

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photo credit: Melissa O'Donohue via photopin cc

1. Avoid Similar Names

Picking names that rhyme or derivatives from the same name are great ways to confuse readers.

Give your major characters names that all start with different letters because when the story gets intense, readers only skim-read the name and might miss Prince Charming's appearance if he's Terry and your princess is Tory. If your protagonist is Tory, the entire letter “T” and everything ending in “ry” are both reserved for her.

If you're stuck, check out BabyNames.com and BehindTheName.com for some ideas. Don't forget Surnames.BehindTheName.com to make sure the last name you've chosen is consistent with the ethnicity of your character.

2. Make Them Pronounceable

This tip doesn't apply to all genres but realize that your book will probably be read aloud at some point in time. Even if you don't choose a common name, choose a name that easy to decipher.

Remember when Harry Potter first came out? No one knew how to pronounce Hermione Granger's first name. In my family we said “Herm-ee-own” until book four when J.K. Rowling actually wrote pronunciation lessons into a scene.

3. Listen in Real Life

Sometimes you come across a person who's got a great name (or a horrible name). Take note, store it for later, and regift it to a character.

Note: if the character dies, you might want to give a heads up (and a complementary copy of the book) to the person whose name you stole.

How do you name your characters?

PRACTICE

Write about a princess. Be creative.

When you finish, post it in the comments and comment on a few other practices.

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Katie Axelson is a writer, editor, and blogger who's seeking to live a story worth telling. You can find her blogging, tweeting, and facebook-ing.

65 Comments

  1. Emma Marie

    She twirled the leaves and puckered her lips. She kept tossing her head back and smiling.
    Hugh, from behind his pad of paper and feathered pen, peeked up at her.
    “Lorraine, what are you doing?”
    She tossed her shoulders back and did some neck movements.
    “I’m posing,” She did that ridiculous giggle she was known for.
    Hugh returned to the paper and scowled. It was just like his parents to set up a date for him and this silly, air headed princess.
    “Are you almost done?”
    “Done what?”
    Lorraine sighed. “Done with the picture! I want to see it,”
    Hugh tossed his pen down and showed the stack of paper to her.
    “I’m writing a letter to your Embassy.”
    Surprise lit up her face.
    “I thought this would be a fun picnic, Hugh,” She pouted and moved to sit next to him. When she put her head on his shoulder, he scooted away.
    “I just have a lot of work that needs to be finished.” Hugh absentmindedly pushed his spectacles up the bridge of his nose.
    Lorraine giggled, and with a quick hand snatched the eyeglasses away.
    “Aw, Lorraine, i can’t see anything now! Give them back!” He stood up and held out his hand.
    “No!” She giggled and ran around the picnic blanket.
    “Ugh! See, this is why i despise princesses.They’re all so stupid, dull, air headed,”
    “Hugh!” Lorraine stood up and shoved the eyeglasses in his hand.
    “I will not hear such treason! You are speaking to the Princess of Sygonia! My father was hoping to form and alliance between our countries, but you have just ruined the friendship once and for all! Good bye, Hugh of Agamont!”
    She departed to the East, her tall heels sinking into the leaves, and he stalked to the North.
    They left behind them the food, drink, and picnic blanket, but most importantly, Hugh left his letter to the Sygonian Embassy out in the open.

    Reply
    • Jay Warner

      I wonder who is going to stumble across Hugh’s letter? Will they go to the Sygonian Embassy? Will Hugh and Lorraine make up? Great beginning!

    • Winnie

      Judging by the number of contributions, the word seems to have opened a spring of creativity.

  2. JamieB

    There is room for one princess, and that is me. I am the most princessy of all princesses, and that’s a fact. Princess Rosemund Blatchford looks a lot like her name: overwhelmingly ugly. Princess Romy DiPiro thinks she’s too cute, and unfortunately she is. I should be so cute. She’s spoiled rotten by an overindulgent father, Prince Frederick and left to her own devices by her mother, a commoner, name not important enough to state.

    I am Princess Eugenia Hope Hall-Porterfield, and I rule this party. After all, it was thrown in my honor, a sort of debutante ball. Now wait, you may be saying. You aren’t sure if it’s a debutante ball or something else? You have no words for these things? Poppycock, I say! Listen to what I have to say.

    We do not like to put labels on anything, other than ourselves. Father and I know what we’re about, and we’re about being the most nearly perfect people we can be. We are both blond, our eyes are breathtakingly crystal blue, and our bodies are slim and sculpted without hours at a gym. We were born beautiful. For this special occasion, I am being dressed in the most soft pink gown imaginable. Pink tulle is literally floating above ever so many layers of ivory tulle, with sequined embellishments on the skirt and crystal beads on the bodice. It’s sleeveless, of course. I mean, it wouldn’t be smart, would it, to have sleeves (even cap sleeves) on a gown of this magnitude. Father, whom I call Daddy when we are alone at home, believes my shoulders are like alabaster. I believe that what is popular AND stunning suits me best.

    Princesses Antoinette, Romy and Rosebud are coming to my festive event. I did not want to invite them, but it is good to be in their company when Town & Country bring their photographers to capture us for their lovely glossy pages. They are lesser princesses, but how would it look if I had a party and invited no one? Lame, I tell you. It would look embarrassingly lame!

    So, after this party is over and I’ve recovered sufficiently, Daddy is getting me rhinoplasty — a nose job — for my birthday. A girl has to keep improving herself or else look like — eugh! — Rosemund Blatchford!

    Reply
    • Jay Warner

      I like the names you chose for your characters, it certainly helps me visualize them in my mind!

    • catmorrell

      Great humor and such a spoiled little darling, just like her incredibly pretentious name.

    • Karoline Kingley

      This was funny and well written, not to mention extremely entertaining! I’d love to see a short story written in this witty style.

  3. Michelle PDB

    I combine favourite names loosely to generate new. Access phone directories of different countries for last names which seem to suggest first names to me I would not have otherwise considered and look for names with certain meanings in baby name books. This hones my search and is more profitable than merely looking through for me even if the final name does not have the meaning I was looking for but was merely one nearby.

    Reply
    • Winnie

      Isn’t that the trend nowadays? Parents give their offspring Russian, French, Spanish ones, whatever sounds nice and takes their fancy.

  4. Elise White

    Viv smoothed her fluffy gown with her delicate, manicured hands.

    When was the last time she’d worn one of these stupid things?

    “Why do I have to wear this ugly thing? It itches!”

    Shelby, her new, hispanic chamber maid, rolled her eyes. “Your highness, it is at the Queen’s request that you…”

    “I know, I know. The old witch wants me to go to some meet and greet with her for some stupid foreign dignatary. You don’t have to tell me that. What I want to know is why she chose this awful dress. Anyway, I’m 16, I’m old enough to drive, shoudn’t I be able to pick out my own clothes?”

    Shelby gave her a blank, indifferent look and kept gathering up Viv’s things for the night.

    “Your iPhone is charged, your highness.”

    “Who cares. I don’t get any messages from anyone, and no one face times with me. ‘Cause I’m stuck up here in this stupid place.”

    She stared out of the 8 story window at the bustling street below, blocked to her access by guards and electric fences. She turned and glared at the 2 body guards standing at her bedroom door.

    She wanted to pull her hair out. But, running her fingers through it as it tumbled past her knees to the floor, it was her one way to rebel. Of course it was also the reason that she hadn’t been out of her chambers for 6 months.

    Maybe she could use this outing to her advantage, and get out of this stuffy castle for good.

    Reply
    • Jay Warner

      nicely written, but I wonder why a Hispanic chambermaid is named Shelby?

    • Katie Axelson

      Great twist on a traditional story

  5. Jay Warner

    This is actually non-fiction, but it seemed to fit the assignment.

    The south side of DC is an amazing mosaic of cultural chaos. I taught in a middle school that boasted students coming from 80 different countries and speaking eight different languages. Out of the 900 students in our school, I was responsible for three classes of approximately 38 students each. They were all precious, but only one was a princess.

    This striking, long-limbed, black-eyed beauty was most definitely a princess because that was her name. Her last name didn’t matter. She had long hair twisted into braids and a full mouth. She was very self-assured and did her lessons with ease. That is, unless she was uninterested in the lesson, and then it was good luck getting her to do it. She made friends easily and her school work seemed to come equally easily. A privileged girl in an unprivileged environment. But because her name was princess, she lived up to her name. I
    think if her name had been Myrtle or Janet, she would have had a different
    outlook on life, but because, when she was born, her parents looked at her and
    saw a princess, she became one.

    Her life was not easy, her mother and sister perished in a house fire when she was still young. She struggled with many things in her short 13 years; struggled to emerge as a young woman ready to face the world, armed with an education. But she had one secret weapon that no one else in the class had, and that was her name.

    She was Princess, and because she was Princess, everyone saw her that way, teachers and classmates alike, and she became the student that none of us
    would ever forget.

    Reply
    • catmorrell

      That could be a blessing and a curse. I wonder how she has handled her name in later years. Names are powerful and do shape us. Thanks for making me think.

    • Jay Warner

      I wonder, too. Glad it made you think.

    • The Striped Sweater

      This, “She struggled with many things in her short 13 years” made me wonder if she died at 13?

    • Jay Warner

      actually it means that she was 13 years old, not that she died.

    • Katie Axelson

      It totally fits! This definitely piqued my curiosity. If it ever develops into anything, let me know.

  6. serenity8

    “Crud,” said Effie. “Some Off-Worlders been asking after me in town again; using my true name, and carrying a picture of how I used to look. I scurried off fast as I could, but if they ever catch me unawares and get close enough, they’ll know it’s me.” “Calm down, dear,” said Aunt Helen, “We’ll do everything in our power to keep you safe here on the farm until your attendants arrive. There’s a purpose for you on your home planet, Eff. You ain’t a princess for nothin’. But you got to be patient and you got to stop drawin’ attention to yourself. Every time you use those powers the Off-Worlders pick it up on that radar they have. The O-Dubs mean to put you into exile or worse. It would be pointless to ask you to act normal, but maybe you could act human for a spell?” “Very funny,” said Effie. “Eighteen years stranded on Earth, and I thought I was fittin’ in pretty good! But it’s true that the O-Dubs are gettin’ fiercer, Auntie. More powerful. Things are heatin’ up and they won’t stop ‘til they find me. This ain’t no fairy tale. And hidin’ in a corn field won’t fool ‘em.”

    Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      I especially like the way you wrote the accent in here. It’s enough that we can hear it but not overpowering.

  7. Betsy Thompson

    I like to use words I mistype on my flaky smart phone touchpad 🙂 For example, one time “Baby” became “Nabu.”

    Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      Oooh, nice. Back was T9 was cool, I used a friend’s phone to try to say, “We’re coming” but it came out “bacon accountant.” Yup, never going to live that one down.

  8. themagicviolinist

    Great post! 😀 I loved doing the practice.

    Sigh.
    Will my Prince Charming ever come? My knight in shining armor? Prince Perfect on his white horse? When will he come and save the day, because I am so completely and totally incapable of any thought process or planning myself?
    Screw you, Prince Charming. Your time is up. I’ll bust out of here on my own and without any help from you.
    “Don’t worry!” my mother, Queen Elizabeth, had called as I we were dragged away in opposite directions. “The Prince of Waterbury will save you!”
    Prince Liam of Waterbury, A.K.A. “never-does-anything-with-his-life-unless-it-involves-staring-at-pretty-women,” was not going to come and save me. Despite what wild fantasies my mother had about the two of us getting married, I wasn’t good looking enough for him.
    I, Princess Phoebe, had mediocre long, brown hair and normal-looking, green eyes. I wasn’t tall, nor short, neither fat, nor skinny. If I was going to break myself out of that jail, it would be on my own.
    I slipped my lock-pick out of my pocket. My mother disapproved of me learning such skills from the village boys, but what would she care once I set her free? The guards didn’t bother to pat me down, for what princess would ever carry a lock-pick in her pocket?
    They really wouldn’t see the dagger coming.
    The lock gave a soft click and I opened the door slowly, so as to make sure it didn’t creak. I poked my head outside of the doorway just enough to see that there were no guards lining this hall . . . yet.
    My boots that a village boy made me make a muffled tap-tapping sound as I pad across the cracked, cement floor. The prisoners stare as I walk by.
    “Please, your highness!” One whispers. A man missing several teeth and wearing rags. “Set me free! I’ve been in here for eight years . . .”
    “I’m sorry,” I whisper back. “I’ll come back for you. I swear, I will.”
    I’m not wearing my tiara or my diamond-studded princess dress. They were stolen from my captors and I was forced into the same rags the other prisoners wore. Yet, everyone still recognizes me. Maybe the kingdom of Zundra was more well-known than I thought.
    My mother’s my drops as I come to her cell. Her hand flies to her chest and she stumbles backwards, closing her eyes and shaking her head. She is wearing rags, as well.
    “How did you–” she starts.
    “Shush! I’m getting you out of here. When I say run, run.”
    “But–”
    “Go find dad. He can’t be far off.”
    I start to pick the lock.
    “Phoebe, you can’t do this on your own.”
    The lock clicks open and she walks out.
    “Mother, I can do this. Have a little faith.”
    I lead her to the door at the end of the hall, whispering apologies and promises. I pick the lock on the door and peer through the crack. The coast is clear.
    “Run!” I hiss. Mom gives me a fleeting hug and kisses my head.
    “I love you, Phoebe.”
    “I love you, too.”
    Mom makes a break for it, running as fast as she can barefoot. Her shoes were valuable. Mine were not.
    “What’s going on in there?”
    My heart skips a beat. We weren’t quiet enough. The armed guards burst through the door on the other end of the hall. I slip through the door in front of me and run outside.
    There is a forest in front of me, where my mother undoubtedly fled to. A lake is to my right, but to my left I can see the mountains which are the quickest way to get back to Zundra. If you can climb.
    I circle around the jail. They won’t expect me to come back in.
    I sneak inside, listening hard for approaching footsteps. I can hear the guards arguing off in the distance. I let out a sigh of relief.
    Letting my guard down for one second has cost me. A large hand clamps over my mouth, muffling my scream. I bring my right foot up and kick the man hard in the stomach. His grip slackens and I manage to bite him. He curses, yanking his hand away. My mouth tastes like blood.
    He makes to grab me, but I bring my right foot up again. He stumbles back, expecting another kick, but I just plunge my hand inside, grabbing the dagger. I throw it at him and it strikes his forehead. His eyes roll back and he falls. Blood trickles down his face.
    I grab the dagger and take a peek outside. They’re running for the forest. I pray that my mother managed to get a head start.
    I take off for the mountains. They would never guess that I would run for the mountains. The climb is too difficult for most.
    Then again, I’m not your ordinary princess.

    Reply
    • R.w. Foster

      Very good. I like the humor, and the present tense of the story. Not many can pull that off, but you did magnificently.

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks! 😀

    • Giulia Esposito

      What great storytelling! Adventure and danger and yet so much fun.

    • themagicviolinist

      Thank you! 😀 I tried my best to bring in a good mix of all that.

    • Giulia Esposito

      It worked. Keep at it.

  9. Elise

    “Princess Elma, it’s such an honor,”
    He bent down and put his puffy lips on my sweaty hand. He backed away quickly, disgust smeared across his greasy face.
    “The pleasure is all mine, Sir Horatio Fernando.” I give him my most dazzling smile. What a slug.
    The next man is another knight in shining armor. Probably a new one, I’ve never seen this handsome face before!
    “Madame,” He knelt down and placed my hand on his forehead. From which foreign country did this man come form?
    “Thank you for coming, kind and loyal sir,”
    There was a pause where no one came up to greet me. I finally had a break to wipe my sweaty hands on my dress, but they just slid on the slippery fabric.
    I wasn’t nervous, in fact, i was almost completely at peace, but my hands continued to sweat.
    The orchestra stuck up another tune. Pops led Mama onto the dance floor.
    “Do the dip, Pops!” I called from my perch.
    He scowled at my pet name for him and continued to drag Mama across the tiles.
    That familiar bubbling in my stomach warned me of impeding danger.
    Great, just as a nobleman was heading my way with a smile pasted on his pale face.
    He moved forward, in the bubbles became a pressure about to burst.
    What would Pops say if he knew what was about to happen? What a hilarious thought!
    He was two steps away when it happened. The shock on his face was worth the churning in my stomach.
    BRRRPPPT!
    The stench was immediate and overpowering.
    “Lord Marty, at your service,” He gagged and coughed all over my hand.
    “Thank you, Lord Marty,” Oh, the pleasure of causing turmoil.
    Ames swaggered to my throne.
    “Nice one, Elma!” We smacked hands together. “That’ll teach Marty not to suck up!”
    He swept my up out of my seat and onto the floor. We left the stench of victory behind.

    Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      Wow. Wasn’t expecting that!

    • R.w. Foster

      Which? The awesome, or asking for more?

    • R.w. Foster

      Hahahahaha. Awesome. Please say there is more!

  10. LuVen

    The Nursemaid

    “Are you ok?” Maelle was putting a hand on her shoulder and looking a
    bit worried. She was a smart kid, a perceptive soul. People said she was no
    royal, she was beefy and not really fair. But no matter how clumsy she was with
    her movements, her spirit was fully awaken. A
    few years more, she would learn about disappointment and defeat, and then she
    would loose the candour and become wise. Noone would be able to fool her
    anymore.
    “Oh, I am fine, darling. Continue reading your lecture.”
    “But you seem worried. Is there anything I can do to help?”
    “Nothing my sweet rose, I will go and have a look at your sister”
    answered Mirla while pushing away the remembrance of the white rabbit.

    Mirla left the study room and walked slowly along the long hallway, up
    the stairs and to the eastern wing of the palace. The pounding question always
    haunting her, never leaving her heart, since that day of the rabbit: “What did I do wrong? Which part did I miss?”
    She had raised them equal. With equal love and patience. With equal
    severity. She had been there every step of the road, every fork in their way,
    to guarantee that the girls had sharp minds, warm hearts, brave souls and
    tempered manners. She knew the girls better than they knew themselves, but
    something important had escaped her attention.
    She entered the dormitory. As usual during the past few weeks the
    curtains were closed, it was the silent reign of darkness that governed here.
    Clarabell lay in her bed, too weak to stand up but still not abandoned by her
    untouched grace. She could become a wonderful queen, smart, of daunting beauty, delicate with her words and actions, simply exquisite. But there was the white rabbit standing in the middle of the way between glory and death.

    “Is is a punishment, Mimi?” Mirla closed the door behind her, came
    closer to the bed and sat down.
    “A punishment for what, my sunshine?”
    “…I don’t know, the rabbit, I think”
    “Do you feel it is a punishment for the rabbit?” She drove her fingers
    through Clarabell’s silken hair, like she had done since so many years.
    “That’s stupid, right? Would god be so petty to make me pay this much
    for one little rabbit?”
    Mirla looked her very serious in the eyes. She could find redemption.
    She only had to want it. She only had to be her little girl again. Not this
    cold heart of steal and beauty, which was following the steps of the dark queen.
    “Come on Mimi, we eat rabbits every week. Maelle knows that too. She is
    younger than me, but she’s a smart kid. And besides, it didn’t take one hour
    after she got a new rabbit.”
    “She is not touching that new rabbit. Do you know that?”
    Mirla was searching a hint of regret, but Clarabell rolled her eyes. She
    only seemed bored.

    There were no regrets in Clarabell’s heart. Neither were there regrets
    in Mirla’s heart, she was convinced that her doing was absolutely necessary;
    she was ready to go to the very bitter end, though it broke her heart. She
    could feel the little flask in her pocket, pricking against her tigh. It would
    be Maelle de Borough and not Clarabell de Borough who would become the next queen.

    Reply
  11. Grace Blaze

    Corra stood watching, waiting. Dressed in all black, fingering her shotgun, she crouched in the corner behind the viel of her kingdom, anxious for him to come back.
    Him… she only wanted him. Jason, with his hair a shock of jet black hair, just like hers. His eyes a golden brown, that would stare delicately into her green ones. Tall, muscled, and handsome, he was the only reason Corra would dare take the risk.
    For Jason was an outlaw in the kingdom, forbidden to enter the city gates. Unknown to her father, he had actually entered several times, just to see her. As the princess of the kingdom, she did have some freedom in inviting friends over, and she was definatly sneaky enough to get him in.
    In the middle of the night, it was too dangerous too just let him in, with all the knights and guards prowling around. She thought they had settled on on plan, Jason and herself. But they longer she sat, the more she knew in her heart something must have happened.
    As carefully as she could, Corra stood up and walked toward the high windows in the great hall. Grabbing onto the notches in the brick that she had created, she climbed two stories up to the window, where she opened it.
    She dangled her feet over the edge, embracing the cool breeze enveloping her. She breathed in slowly, closing her eyes and allowing herself to take a quiet break in her favorite resting spot– the one place she knew no one would find her.
    Remembering her task, she lept from the window, freefalling for a couple seconds before rolling to the floor below her on the other side, landing as gracefully as she always had. She flattened herself against the wall, searching the perimeter. Feet from her was a guard, interrogated an older boy. Corra’s heart stopped. She knew the boy in a second– Jason. And by the look on the guard’s face, he knew who he was.
    Without thinking, she whipped out her blade and threw it in the guard’s direction within a fraction of a second. A heavy thud told her he was dead. “Princess Corra!” Jason scream-whispered, running to me. He caught me in his arms, where we shared a kiss before realizing we had to leave.
    He grabbed my hand. “I’m so sorry, Corra. But we have to leave. Why did you do that to the guard?”
    I kissed his cheek. “Because I love you.”

    Reply
    • Contrary Bear

      I really like Corra! Her name really envisions her- concise and to the point. She definitely sounds interesting.

  12. P_RJT

    Sonalika, the regal one, placed one foot firmly but slowly amidst the fallen leaves. Wincing inwards as she heard the dry crackle under her foot. She had to be as insconpicuous as the steady lull of the breeze.

    “SON-SHO!”She lost her balance and almost fell over, was her mind playing tricks on her, so intent and attentive it was to the necessity of being simultaneously in movement whilst hiding behind the invisibility of silence? Did she really hear her pet name, used so fondly by her Queen Mother? She did hear it, pronounced exactly like her mother would have, with the appropriate stress on the right vowel, with the sweetly shrill tone, that only her mother’s vouce could carry.

    “NALIKA!!” the consonant-heavy syllables shook her out of her reverie, and she jumped as his voice boomed. She cursed silently, he found her afterall, that Nikolai, always at her trail. The further away and faster she tried to get away from him, the sooner he found her, the closer he got to her. Yes, they were inseparable, Nikolai and Nalika, Nalika and Nikolai; her name morphed from a first name to a new identity, no longer mother’s pet, no “So-nalika” to “So-nsho”, only Nikolai’s Nalika.

    Reply
    • Karoline Kingley

      I really like the character and scenario you’ve created here! And I can see you used some strong descriptive words, but I would maybe incorporate them more sparsely, just so you don’t overwhelm the reader! But overall it was well done. 🙂

    • P_RJT

      Thank you Karoline. I really appreciate youroinput and feedback as a novice. I’ll keep your advice in mind for my next piece.
      Best.

    • R.w. Foster

      Please continue this. This feels like a strong start to either a novel, or a short story.

    • P_RJT

      Thank you for the encouragement R.w. I’ll definitely attempt to work it into a short story.

    • R.w. Foster

      Outstanding. Please let me know when it’s finished & where to find it? I definitely want to read more.

    • P_RJT

      I don’t have an cyberspot per se, to showcase my writing (except for TWP for now); I only just started to take a long forgotten hobby seriously. I may start a blog for this purpose, thanks for the inspiration and encouragement. We should write for the love of writing but support from fellow writers gives you that extra push.

    • R.w. Foster

      You know what’s better than support from your fellow authors? Reading/hearing a comment on your blog/website/inbox/mailbox from a stranger telling you they loved your work and will be recommending it to their friends.

  13. Karoline Kingley

    Here is my practice:

    I don’t like fairy tales. Or fairy tales about princesses anyway. Because none of them are happy or content; they would rather cast away every luxury and privilege at their fingertips for peasant status.Those girls are making a mistake that I have vowed to never commit. The day I wake up sneering at my castle and the host of servants available at my beck and call, will be the day that I have lost sight of what a gift I have in royalty. Being a princess may be trifling at times to be sure, but I would never dream of relinquishing my position for normality. Perhaps peasants are permitted to roam the streets at they choose, yet those princesses in fairy tales seem to forget that those same peasants must earn a small helping of bread by the sweat of their brow. At night, after adventuring they return to a small, straw-thatched roof teeming with unwelcome critters and sporting foul odors. It seems every average girl aspires to royalty, while most story-book princesses day dream of a lower status. Looking at the myriad of silk gowns ornamenting my wardrobe…I wouldn’t have it any other way. And not simply because of the luxuries included in my title. At the end of the day being a princess has little do with reclining on plush couches and courting handsome princes. There is power in my name, power appointed to me at birth. Some say that I am great, because I have been born to greatness. However I wager it to be quite the contrary–though I may have been born with all the means to do something grand, nothing can be changed or accomplished without my consent. Therefore if my descendants remember me for the great things I did, it will be no less commendable than the heroic exploits of a pauper. For the ability to wield influence lies in the self, and not the surroundings. But as a princess, I am blessed, for a whole kingdom expects me to fulfill this role, and I shall never be in wont of motivation or a cause.

    Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      I like the juxtaposition of ideas you’ve got going on here.

    • themagicviolinist

      I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: your ability to write with a smooth, medieval flair is astounding! The writing is beautiful, yet accessible for anyone and everyone. Great job!

      One thing I noticed is that you said “wont” at the end instead of “want.” Thought you’d like to know!

    • R.w. Foster

      Fascinating. I’d like to read more about this princess. What does she plan to do with her power & influence, I wonder. Looking forward to more!

  14. Contrary Bear

    “Olivia darling! Come on down, dinners on the table”, my father shouted up the stairs, his booming voice almost deafening me.

    “Yes Father!”. And by that, I meant No Father. He must have missed the little asterisk in my tone. Not my fault.

    I crossed my room, trying to ignore the echoing sounds my riding boots made on the uneven stone floor as I paced. I pictured myself pacing until I wove a pattern in the floor, so distinct Father would get angry. But I would keep running my feet over the smooth stone until the tower collapsed. I’d like to see his face then. I really would.

    Ugh, just thinking about it made me angry! I took a swipe at the thick velvet curtains, and watched with disdain as they fluttered to the floor in a messy purple pile. Even that was useless.

    I sunk into my bed, and squeezed my eyes shut as hard as I could. The less I saw of this place, the better. In fact, the less I thought about this entire kingdom I would feel better.

    But how could I when my Darling Daddy was sending me to a convent?! A freaking convent! Simply because I’m not the oldest, or the prettiest, or the smartest. No, those awards go to Annabelle, the Perfect Princess. Who else.

    This whole family Royally Sucks. I mean, is it really my fault I don’t have eyes the color of robins eggs and hair the color of gold? Is it my fault that I look like a mouse, with light brown hair and green eyes? I know I look like no one else, but that doesn’t seem like enough to send me to a convent.

    Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to wear those black gowns they wear. We almost made fun of those in the courts when we were little- we called them the Nunners, and the Black Sisters behind their backs. Occasionally we got caught, and they whipped us real good, but it was worth it to have that moment laughing in the stairwell, feeling like our sides were splitting.

    Well, Annabelle can laugh at me all she wants now.

    Reply
    • Jessica Baverstock

      I love this! You had me from her ‘asterisk.’

    • Contrary Bear

      Thanks 🙂

    • Katie Axelson

      I love this! You’re a strong writer, Contrary Bear, keep doing it!

    • Contrary Bear

      Thank you 🙂

    • R.w. Foster

      Please tell me there is more! I really love Olivia and want to know more of her.

    • Contrary Bear

      Thanks so much! Yeah, she was pretty fun to write 🙂

  15. Rachel Pierce

    Funny that you mention Harry Potter. I had no problems with Hermione, but definitely was mentally mispronouncing Ginny until my sister straightened me out. I also have troubles with Russian Lit. I nicknamed one of the characters in Crime and Punishment Marmaduke… did not go over well in my HS English class.

    Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      I had forgotten about this until right now but I know a middle schooler who always read “Foe-be” for Phoebe.

    • R.w. Foster

      I used to.

  16. Dan Erickson

    I write realistic fiction, so I usually choose realistic names. The protagonist in my Cult Trilogy is Andy Burden. The antagonist is Peter Smith. The first book is based on reality and I wanted an ambiguous name to protect the guilty. Other characters include Annabelle, Simon, Bruce, Calvin, Russell, Jimmy, etc. Then there is Xena who Andy refers to as X in “The Crossing of Justice and Mercy.” Learn more at http://www.danerickson.net.
    As for a princess, I’d call her princess Time.

    Reply
  17. seanpaulmahoney

    I’m a HUGE etymology nerd and love finding out the meaning of names so I usually look at baby name and word meaning websites. I like my character’s names to mean something, even if its just for me.

    Reply
  18. AlexBrantham

    The princess sighed. She’d been stuck in this Bloody Tower for months now, and there was no sign of any prince, charming or otherwise, coming to rescue her. She summoned her faithful handmaid, Derek.

    “Oi, Derek, get yourself up here, pronto. Where’s my lunch?” the demanding princess demanded.

    “Luncheon will be served shortly, your highness,” Derek said, picking up the pieces of broken glass that were strewn around the floor. “Might I ask, did some accident befall your highness here?”

    “Might have,” the princess said. “You might want to take the rest of the mirror away as well, it was giving me cheek.”

    Derek saw the empty mirror frame on the wall and had to work hard to hide her impatience as she cleaned up the mess. “Cheek, your highness?”

    “Yes, cheek, refused to answer a simple question. I mean, who is the fairest princess in this room, it’s not exactly a hard one, is it?”

    “Indeed not, your highness. And the phone, was that similarly unco-operative?” Derek picked up the shattered remains of the princesses iPhone that lay against the bare stone wall.

    “It was. I’ve been tweeting princes all over the world, not one of them will follow me. Prince Harry of England, Prince Jerry of Saxony, Prince Barry of Norway, Prince Larry of the North American Colonies – all of them, cold shouldering me. What’s the matter with me anyway?”

    “I can’t possibly imagine,” Derek said, backing cautiously out of the room.

    Honestly, Princess Frank could be a right pain in the **** when she was in the mood.

    Reply
  19. Guest

    When I need to name a character, I open Facebook right away and type any two letters that come to my mind and then click on search. Then I choose an appropriate one from the names that appear. Tada!

    Reply
  20. diyanishana10

    When I need to name a character, I open Facebook right away and type any two letters that come to my mind and then click on search. Then I choose an appropriate one from the names that appear. Tadaa!

    Reply
  21. R.w. Foster

    Rob watched the way Princess Jennifer stalked into her chambers. Her shoulders were forward as if she were walking into a gale, and her steps matched it, her knees barely bending. Her father, King Jacob, must have ordered her to prepare for the royal ball. He could picture the scene: Her father’s adamant order, followed by the princess’ face slowly reddening until it matched her shoulder length wavy hair.

    “Grrrr. Why does he have to be so fecking impossible!”

    Rob’s mouth curved into a smirk. “You have to get ready for the ball.”

    She whirled, dark eyes narrowed. Her face lit in a beaming smile. “Rob! Just the man I was hoping to see.”

    “Riiiggghhhttt.”

    “Really. Guess what?”

    He drew himself up to his full six and a half feet. “What?”

    She scampered over and jumped into his arms. “You get to be my escort.”

    His eyebrows shot up. She’d not asked him to shift before. “You want to ride a stallion into a formal dance?” He set her on the floor. “That’ll go over great with your dad.”

    She shook her head. “Nope quite, my dear Rob. I said ‘escort’, not carry me.”

    He strode across the room and poured himself a half glass of Tiresean Ale. He tossed it back and tossed the glass to her bed. He spun back, bottle in hand. “Yeah, and how will we explain where I came from? Remember, no one knows about me. Other than Sorcerress Fabiola, I mean. I don’t fancy having my neck in a noose, Baby Girl.”

    She batted her eyes at him and he felt his resistance crumbling. Sometimes he hated that she could do that to him. ‘What am I thinking? No I don’t. I love her too much for that. If only I could tell her. Looks like I’m going to the Royal Ball.”

    Reply
  22. Laura W.

    The pronunciation thing would be easier if all we had to choose from were English-derived names, but many popular names are of Greek/Roman origins, not to mention the many names from other languages that are used in English-speaking countries.

    However, I’ve read some fantasy books that give the characters ridiculously complicated names with dashes and dots and strings of consonants in a row and what-have-you for no apparent reason other than to sound “fantasy.” Whatever that means.

    I’m also totally guilty of giving a pair of twins both “S” names, that even sound slightly similar. Oops. 🙁

    I also named a bunch of small-part bad guys after several of my exes. Oops, again. 😉

    Reply

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