Writing Wednesday: What’s in a Name?

How do you choose the names of your fictional characters? How important is it to find the right name? 

martyn_joseph_10-446x296Ever since I started writing my science fiction novel Flight of the Kestrel: Intruders (and it’s a very long time), the Captain of the Kestrel was Joseph Martin. It’s a good strong name in my opinion, suitable for a Captain. And his friends call him Joe. (I was a bit disconcerted when a friend pointed out that there is a Christian singer called Martin Joseph, and that’s probably where the name got into my subconscious.)  

Throughout the book, the crew of the Kestrel are referred to by their surnames, in military fashion. The trouble is, Martin is a Christian name too. When people started beta reading for me, they got confused. ‘I thought his name was Joseph?’ So Martin had to go. 

James MasonIt’s hard, because I’ve known this guy a long time. Joseph Martin is who he is. Could I still relate to him under another name? I tried Mason – Joseph Mason, like James Mason. Then I found out that Mason is now a Christian name too. 



Paul DarrowFinally in desperation I came up with the actor Paul Darrow [picture]  , who famously played Avon in Blakes 7 , one of my favourite TV series, which is being revived, I’m pleased to say. I met him recently and bought his autobiography, which I really enjoyed. Avon was an unscrupulous fellow, but didn’t take any nonsense and usually came out on top. 

The Captain of the Kestrel is definitely not unscrupulous – in fact, he is a stickler for the rules (at first), but he is a strong character like Avon. I’m still attached to the name Joseph, so for now, his name is Joseph Darrow. I’m rewriting the novel for NaNoWriMo in November, so we’ll see how the name fits.

How do you find names for your characters? I’d love to know.




About Ann Marie Thomas

Married since 1974, Christian since 1986, 4 children, 4 grand children, disabled with fibromyalgia but was working almost full time until a stroke in May 2010 changed my life completely. Writing poetry and making up stories since I was a child, I only started to write seriously when my children were grown. My main ambition is to write science fiction, but along the way I got distracted by local history and poetry about my stroke. Taking early retirement gave me the chance to concentrate on my writing. My book, Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth, was published in print and ebook at Easter 2012. The success of Alina led to the publication of Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John in September 2013, and The Magna Carta Story at Easter 2015. I am still writing science fiction - a series of novels called Flight of the Kestrel. For all my author news, see me author blog at www.annmariethomas.me.uk
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One Response to Writing Wednesday: What’s in a Name?

  1. Comedy features strongly in my stories, so I tend to choose names that make me laugh! 🙂


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