Children’s literature is rich with so many delicious character names. With the very best ones, your eyes widen, your ears prick up and your tongue wraps around the words. Merely seeing the names, helps you visualise the characters or imagine their personalities.
Cruella de Vil from The Hundred and One Dalmatians must be one of my all time favourite names for a villain. Just hearing it, makes me think of a rich, pompous woman, cruel like the devil. It fits perfectly with someone who wants to wear puppy skins. Miss Trunchball from Matilda is another fab name. It’s a mixture between a truncheon and a wrecking ball. Perfect for a head-teacher who uses her power ruthlessly. Sauron from Lord of the Rings drips with bitterness. Skull from The Dreamsnatcher reminds me of death straight away.
There are also wonderful names for heroes. Katniss from the Hunger Games makes me think of a survivor, someone with 9 lives, someone strong. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter is a great whimsical name, a fantastic summation of someone who has their head in the clouds. Lucky from Phoenix really wants to live up to his name… and for the sake of the galaxy, he must.
Sometimes heroes’ names are plain or ordinary so that we as readers (with ordinary names) think we might aspire to greatness too. Harry Potter comes to mind or Lucy from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
When I was thinking about my own main character’s name for Cat Burglar, Scarlet just came to me. But something about it wasn’t right. It felt too glamorous. In the back of my mind I was thinking of Miss Scarlet in Cluedo and knew that it didn’t fit. So… I shortened it to Scar and suddenly my character felt whole. Scar could be a girl’s or a boy’s nickname and it reflected the scars she felt on both the outside and the inside.
Do you have any favourite character names in books? Do they hint at what the characters look like or do they reveal something sinister or something magical about their personalities?
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