Creating a character list

Creating characters can be fun. You develop their characteristics, physical traits, and their backstories. And you get to name them. Now you don’t always need to spend a lot of time on characters. If they are a minor character, you will spend less time developing them then say your protagonist. But as your protagonist runs into people sometimes those people at least need a name – and perhaps a description.

The pert waitress may come over and announce her name is Sally, interrupting your character’s dark thoughts. Sally won’t probably get even a last name. Heck, you probably could write the scene without giving the waitress a name.

But if your character runs into many of the same characters – perhaps who live in the same apartment building or down at the local bar, those people might be better off with names.

The other day, I was working on my current WIP. It is the first book in a second trilogy about Lina and Val, the main characters from my first trilogy, The Elemental. There was already a large cast of characters in that trilogy and now we are adding to that group. And that means naming more major, minor and bit characters.

I’ve written several posts about how to name characters. But the tricky thing is that after six books, I’ve used a lot of the names I like. Plus, I am writing fantasy so none of my characters have Christian names like John and Michael. I am for more unique names though there are a few common names mixed in.

Since I am working with a large cast of characters in this world, I do have a spreadsheet of the names. Actually, as I write any of my books, I usually have a spreadsheet with the character names, locations, travel times, timeline and chapter lengths.

It was when I was naming two thieves that my latest WIP that I realized that I might need a master list of names I’ve already used and in which book they appeared. It isn’t that I can’t use names again, but I would rather not always use the same names – no matter how much I like them. I mean I know not to use Val, Grayson or Soren as these were main characters, but what about Elias or Darius?

I’m not saying you need to do this, but it has turned out to be very interesting. I did find out that I have a character named Delwin and Elden in every one of my books. And I have 265 named characters over 5 full-length novels, my short story and my current WIP. That feels like a lot, and I expect this list to continue to grow as I write the rest of this trilogy.

One thought on “Creating a character list

  1. […] Creating characters can be fun. You develop their characteristics, physical traits, and their backstories. And you get to name them. Now you don’t always need to spend a lot of time on characters. If they are a minor character, you will spend less time developing them then say your protagonist. But as your protagonist runs into people sometimes those people at least need a name – and perhaps a description. (To keep reading, click here.) […]

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