What's in a Name?: Tips on Naming Characters

Hello hello writer bugs!

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, naming a character is like naming a child.

Whether it’s for a main character or a background character, the names you choose should be significant. Names can tie characters to the setting, to their roots, or just hold a greater symbolic meaning. How do you find the perfect name for a character? I’ve got some tips that are sure to help.

Baby Naming Websites

Baby naming websites for mommies-to-be are actually really helpful. Check out the extensive lists and dredge up some ideas for names. If you are looking for a name that begins with a certain letter or a specific cultural origin, you’ll be able to search names that fit your criteria.

A Name with Meaning

Sometimes, names have a deeper root meaning. And those meanings can fit into a character’s personality. You’d be surprised what some names translate into. Not every reader is going to make those connections, however, you, as the author, will know. A meaningful name may influence a character’s identity.

For my MC, his first name is Graham, which means ‘grey home’. That image really connects with his gloomy and mysterious personality.

Historical Context 

If your story takes place in another time period, keep in mind the historical context. Names that are common today may not have been 100 years ago. Find out what names were common at the time. If you Google something like ‘names from 1920s’, a list of popular names from the 1920s will probably pop up.

Also, check the Social Security Administration website for ranked list of common names of the decade. It’s pretty useful, and it’ll give you a feel for the time period and what inspired names during that era.

Sound it Out

When in doubt, sound it out. Say the name out loud. If it doesn’t sound right, or its difficult to pronounce, or just sounds like a mouthful, then something’s off. Keep trying. Once you’ve found a name that suits your character, it should just click. Like, “huh, that one sounds right.”

Consider the Entire Cast

Try not to have characters’ names sound similar, or readers may be confused. Think about your fictional crew as a whole and note if names sound too alike. By differentiating characters, readers will have an easier time following the story and connecting with individual characters.

One time, in fiction writing class, a classmate had two characters named Flip and Clip. Unironically. Don’t have a Flip and Clip in your story. I’m still confused about it.


How do you go about naming your characters? Lemme know in the comments!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Welcome to Lady Jabberwocky!

Hello Everyone!

Let’s about all things writing and have some fun doing it. From storytelling to freelancing, follow the adventures of a New York writer.

Curious about the ins and outs of freelance writing? Check out the Notes from a Lady Freelance Writer series. It’s the real insight on my job as a freelancer.

Want to improve your creative writing skills? There’s some great advice on fiction writing, simplifying the art of storytelling. Also, participate in Prompt of the Week, with a new writing prompt every Monday. And read some of the short stories here too.

But wait, there’s more!

Us writers need all the help we can get.

If you’d be so kind, support this blog by becoming a Patron! Every dime is well appreciated.

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Thanks for stopping by!

How to Handle Rewrites Like a Freelance Writer

Since October is the season of facing monsters, let’s talk about what most freelance writers fear and dread during every project; Revisions, rewrites and criticism. Dun dun dunnnn.

Have no fear, rewrites aren’t so scary. And they’ll happen more often than you think.

Setting the Scene

You are a freelance writer, working your hustle. Whatever material your buyer needs written, you put a considerable amount of effort into it. Once completed, you are proud of your finished piece and send it off for review. You’re left crossing your fingers that whatever you wrote is exactly what they ordered, no edits needed. Then, said buyer returns your work to you with notes. ‘Trim this, rewrite this section, change that, add more, fix this.’ Now, you are charged with perfecting your writing. And that may be a daunting task for some.

Has this happened to me? Oh yes, plenty of times. At first, corrections would hit me right in my ego and self confidence. Like “Maybe I’m an awful writer. My writing is garbage. I’m the worst.” Today, I just take it as a challenge. It’s a way for me to become a better writer. Actually, the other day, a repeat buyer sent me back an article with many crossed out sentences, to be deleted or rewritten. While yes, it stings a tiny bit, I cracked my neck and dove right back in to another round of writing, reassuring the customer that I could handle rewrites, no problem.

How to Tackle Revisions

When you are a writer, you have to expect, and be open to, criticism. I’ve seen so many writers get offended by constructive criticism. Don’t take it personally. Revisions are part of the writing process, especially in freelancing. At the end of the day, you are trying to fulfill someone else’s request. Therefore, you must collaborate with another person to achieve a goal, an awesome piece of writing.

See the source image

Often times, a client will give you their notes, aspects of your work they want to change. Those comments get turned into your to do list. Once you’ve received edits, go back to the original piece and pinpoint all the errors they mention. Remember, this is the second time you’ll be looking at what you wrote, so it will be with fresh eyes. Make adjustments at the buyer’s request, whether you agree or not. The customer’s always right, right? Once the piece is ready for review again, double check that checklist. Be sure you hit all the points noted and deliver exactly what the client wants.

And keep in mind, there can be multiple rounds of edits. Communication with your client is key.

Living Up to Expectations

It depends on who you’re working for, whether it be a one time buyer or a regular customer. Their expectations might be strict and precise, or might be laid back and they’ll accept anything. The more you interact with them, the more you’ll understand their standards. Trust me, I’ve received everything from minor editorial notes to a long laundry list of notes. It happens. The ‘under revisions’ stage is just one step in the writing process for freelancers.

Clients may offer some detailed instructions, or they may give you a vague topic to run with. Really understand what the buyer is looking for. And if you are feeling unsure about something, or confused about directions, asking a bunch of questions help. In my experience, it’s better to bother them with questions, just to be certain of what they want, as opposed to taking their request at face value and shooting in the dark.

Home Runs

In my experience as a freelance writer, nothing beats handing in work that is error free. When the client says “This is perfect! This is exactly what I was looking for!” It happens rarely, but when it does, I call it a home run, knocked right out of the park. I do a little happy dance in my seat. Savor those moments of sweet victory.

Offering your work up for review can be intimidating. And waiting for possible corrections while an article is up for criticism can be a bit nerve-wracking. I cross my fingers every time I send anything out. But, rewrites happen more often than not. And that’s okay. It’s not necessarily something you’ve done wrong, or not well enough. So, don’t feel discouraged when a paragraph needs rewriting. Remember your skills as a writer and revisions won’t be so scary.

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I want to hear from you guys. How do you feel when given criticism on your work? How do you handle the revision process? Be honest, and let me know in the comments.

Lady Jabberwocky

You’re In Charge (Short Story + Self Critique)

Hey Writer Bugs!

Today, I’m taking a look back in the archives and sharing a story I wrote from 2015 from Fiction Writing Class. Since this piece is four years old, and my writing has evolved over time, I’ll be self critiquing myself at the end of this post. This is me learning from past mistakes.

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    “Audrey?”
            “Yes, Arthur?”
            “Is our house gonna get blown away? Like in the Wizard of Oz?”
            We crunched potato chips as the wind howled outside.
            “That was a tornado,” I answered “This is a hurricane.”
            “They called it a super storm on the news.” He said
matter-of-factly. He was a small boy, with blonde hair and big curious hazel eyes, wearing Batman pajamas. My little brother was six year old, an age where he had a question for everything.
            We were sitting on the sofa, a pile of junk food between us. Our elbows leaned against the windowsill. Mrs. Goodrow’s tree across the street was teetering from side to side, threatening to fall. She was a wicked old bat, who would yell at children, including my brother, for playing in the street too loudly. Said the kids were ‘disturbing Winston’, her bird. Nutty weirdo. Part of me wished that tree did fall.
            “It’s an extra big hurricane, so they’re calling it a superstorm.” I explained, rolling my eyes, thinking we could wait out the storm, like the last one.
            “Mommy would be mad,” He started, digging his tiny hands into a bag of gummy worms. “Cause we’re up past bedtime, eating candy and chips and watching a scary movie.”
            Our parents left to Florida for a couple of days, for a business conference,  leaving me, a fifteen year old in charge of a six year old, Arthur. All I heard was “You’re in charge”, so I spent
my allowance on junk food and rented movies. They thought the storm’s route would redirect, that it wouldn’t hit New York. It did.
            “They said I was in charge, right?” I reminded with a smile. I glanced at the flat screen t.v. in the living room. An old scary movie was playing. There was a close-up on the werewolf’s face, which looked more like a cheap Halloween costume. “Look Arthur, you can see the zipper on his mask.” I laughed as I ran a hand through my messy strawberry blonde hair. He giggled too.
            “Are Mommy and Daddy ever coming back?”
            “Of course they are, they’re just stuck in Florida until this storm blows out of New York.” I answered, my gaze returning to Mrs. Goodrow’s tree, still swaying from side to side. The roots were beginning to peek through the ground.
            The lights began to flicker. I stared at the lamp in dread. “Oh no.” We were then engulfed in darkness.
            “The lights went out.” He informed, his Batman pajamas glowing in the dark.
            “I see that.” I huffed. This was perfect. I stumbled quickly into the kitchen, rummaging through the junk drawer for a flashlight.
            “I can’t see anything,” Arthur said, following behind me. “This is scary.”


Notes from Lady Jabberwocky

  • I like how the story begins. This is a good example of in media res. When the reader is dropped into the middle of a scene, or in this case a conversation, with little context. Grabs the attention of the audience quickly.
  • At this time, I hadn’t learned about Hemingway’s Ice burg theory. Some bits have too much unnecessary exposition. Like explaining how old the kid is, or why the parent’s are away. Show, don’t tell, Lady.
  • For some reason, I wish there was more physical interaction between the two siblings. Just to show more of their relationship as brother and sister. Their movements seem so staged. However, I made some interesting choices with a few verbs, like the boy digging his hand into a bag of candy, rummaging through a junk drawer.
  • Both setting and character descriptions need to be bumped up. I should’ve added more detail on the inside of the home itself. Right now, it feels like two kids floating in empty space, with only a window and a television to occupy them.
  • The idea of a young teen spending all her money on junk food and candy and movies while her parents are away makes me smile. Also, the boy’s glow in the dark Batman pajamas is an easy to imagine picture. It’s details like that that make this simple story feel real and relatable.

Back during peer review, we had to offer comments like this on stories written by fellow students. A proper, honest critique can really help someone grow and learn as a writer. And looking back at old work is definitely an enlightening (and cringey) experience.

What did you guys think of this short story (and my self critique)? Should I do more of these? Let me know in the comments. Have a great weekend, writer bees!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

3 Tips on Creating Likeable Antagonists

Mayday! Mayday!

You’re writing a story, minding your own business, when suddenly, a character you’re creating is taking a nose dive right into unlikable jerk territory. Let’s try to save your character from being total terror.

Whether they be hot tempered, or rude, or just have a nasty attitude,  you have created a character who is nothing but bad qualities. An unpleasant fellow in every regard. Yes, there are antagonists and villains and personified rain clouds, however, is that all they are? Just… the bad guy?

Here are some tips for creating a character we love to hate (and not hate to hate).

Changing Point of View

If your story involves multiple narratives, consider having your jerk character try on the narrator hat for a bit. How do they see the world? Are they really as nasty as they seem? What are their home lives like? Is there a reason for their misbehavior? Take a walk in their shoes. By doing this, it can give the reader insight to that character’s backstory and perspective.

Create Obstacles

Let there a be a struggle that shows another side of their character. The reader will gain a level of empathy for this character if they see them face some kind of hardship. Maybe the character learns from their past mistakes? Or feels guilt about something? Or has to face a real, serious conflict, either internal or external. Give the character a hill to climb over.

Give Them a Redeemable Trait

Anything. There has to be something good. No matter how horrible and cruel someone is, there must be some redeemable quality. Are they charming? Quick witted? Hard working? Show some level of respect or affection towards another? Like animals? (Who doesn’t like puppies?) You catch my drift. Any sort of positive trait to balance out the not so positive traits.


Don’t just have a character who is only recognized by the reader as being a terrible person. Real characters, like real people, need a balance in order to be complex.

Hope this helps some writer out there. In the comments, let me know who your favorite bad guy character you love to hate.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky.

Crash Course in Ernest Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory

Hello Writer Bees!

Currently, I’m cleaning out my space and getting rid of all my worldly, and worthless, possessions. So, in the spirit of removing unncesary things, let’s talk about the king of minimalism himself: Ernest Hemingway.

Breaking News!

For all the history buffs, this one’s for you. Before he became a famous author, Ernest Hemingway was a journalist for the Toronto Star. In the start of his career as a writer, he wrote reports on current events that featured little interpretation and context. This way of writing transferred into his fiction writing and shaped his signature style we know today.

What is the Iceburg Theory?

In short, the Iceberg Theory is a writing technique coined by Ernest Hemingway. In the words of Hemmingway “declarative sentences and direct representations of the visible world”. It’s about burying themes and meanings underneath the surface of a story. Let the readers uncover those treasures for themselves.

Tips on Minimalist Writing

  • Edit smart. Remove excess fat of exposition.
  • Let dialogue and physical cues speak for themselves.
  • Cover up symbols and themes under short, distant sentences.

Hope you guys learned more about Hemingway and his unique writing style. Perhaps the Iceberg theory will creep into your own writing, just a little bit.

Sorry for my absence last week, writer bugs. A lot is happening on my end. Cross your fingers and toes that things works out well. A hint of good luck would be welcomed. To make up for no post last Friday, you guys might get a second post this weekend. Two for one!

Enjoy the rest of the week everyone!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

The Secrets Behind Creating a Memorable Detective Character

Hello Writer Bees!

At the center of any great murder mystery is a great detective. Whether they are an amateur sleuth, a private inspector or a member of law enforcement, this is the character, or team, that is the heart of any whodunit. Let’s talk about the behind the scenes secrets to creating a detective character.

Be Inspired By Classic Detectives

Buster Keaton in Sherlock Junior (1924)

Before you dive right into character creation, consider the fictional detectives from classic murder mysteries. Right off the bat, we think of notable inspectors like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Of course, there are many more sleuths in detective fiction, explore and read as much as you can. Diversity is crucial in this research. Once you’ve read a bunch of different mysteries, focus in on a few characters. What stands out with them? What about them catches your attention as a reader? Really think about makes those characters memorable. Be inspired by the characters and artists that came before you. Then, put your own twist on the conventional detective and be original.

What’s in a Name?

You gotta admit, some detectives out have some pretty unique names. The kind of names that turn heads, and draw people in. No, this does not mean you must frivolously choose the most ridiculous name you can think of. Be mindful about the character’s name. Feel free to play around with uncommon names. Ever heard of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson? There’s a reason those names stick in our minds.

Image result for poirot gif

If you are a loyal follower of the Lady Jabberwocky blog, you’ll know that I am currently deliberating over names for my detective. I’m considering where he is from and what sounds easy on the ears. Since he will be the main character, his name must resonate the reader in some way.

Method to the Madness

Image result for detective poirot order quote method

Next, let’s talk about method, how the detective works. Do they use brute force and bust heads to gather information? Or do they inspect for clues with a magnifying class? Or is there a special ability at work? Whatever the case, there must be a rhyme and reason to every action during their investigation. However, it’s more than just method. It’s how they navigate the world and how they interact with other people. What’s their relationship with their sidekick? How do they interrogate suspects? Really take a walk in their shoes.

The Need to Investigate

Not only should you consider how they investigate, but why they investigate. Why are they inspectors? Why does the detective solve cases? Behind every sleuth lies their motivation, the drive that compels them to unravel mysteries. Are whodunits just big puzzles for them? Or do they have a high moral values? Or are they personally connected to the crime in some way? Explore the reason why your character is in this business, or at least in a position to investigate and find the culprit.

Related image

Plus, this would be a good time to think about a catchphrase. A bit cheesy but some characters do well with a tagline. For my main character, he lives by the idea that “Life should end in a period, not a question mark.” A personal philosophy like this one can highlight one’s motive and goal, and help the reader understand the character better.

Quirks and Odd Habits

It’s those little idiosyncrasies that make a character realistic. Detectives should be eccentric, odd balls. They should have quirks and peculiar traits, like something is a little off about them. Yes, Poirot is a genius, but what makes him memorable is his need for order and precision. Does your inspector have any odd habits when in thought? If you think about it, we all have our strange quirks. For this character, dial those traits up a notch, to be extra weird and interesting. Frankly, they should be borderline alien.

Image result for columbo gif

Wrapping Up May Of Mystery

When creating a sleuth, every decision must be a conscious, specific one. Be mindful of their name, how they work, and what odd traits define them. Think of a detective as another breed of fictional character. Trust me, the world does not need more carbon copies of Holmes.

The case is officially closed. With this post, May of Mystery comes to an end. It really was a fun month, writer bees. Hope you all learned something about detective fiction. What genre themed month should I do next? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your ideas.

Also, I just want to take a minute to proclaim my undying appreciation for my first patron, Mister Michael from NY. I love you to the moon and back. Check out my Patreon and help support me and this blog. Every little bit helps. Thanks everyone!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky