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John Howard Reid

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Naming Your Characters
By John Howard Reid   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, October 23, 2010
Posted: Saturday, October 23, 2010

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I'm sure every author realizes that naming his or her characters is an important element in both novels and short stories.

Naming Characters

This becomes even more important of course if you are aiming at writing a series of stories or novels around a central character.

The more original your name, the better, so long as it is not too outlandish – unless of course your intent is humorous.

Like Walt Disney, I've always been interested in characters with alliterative names: Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Horace Horsecollar, etc. 

I am particularly drawn to Mickey Mouse. I find the M-M combination most appealing. I employed it for Micaela Morris in my book, "Micaela Morris in Jo's Heaven".  

Therefore it was a little disappointing to discover there were actually two or three well-known people bearing the Michaela Morris name. And this was in the U.S.A. alone!

So for my detective, I determined to use a name that was not in any way outlandish, but that seemed reasonably common, and indeed almost as normal as Butler and Greene.

Yet I required a name that also initiated a pleasingly virile association.

And even importantly, of course, a name that embodied all the above qualities, yet was absolutely unique.

After many tries, I finally came up with Merryll Manning. I Googled the name. There was no Merryll Manning in the entire world.

Now of course there is "Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island", "Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders" and "Merryll Manning: Beachfront Holiday".

My own Merryll Manning website can be found at

(Incidentally Goodreads are conducting a Giveaway for "Merryll Manning: Beachfront Holiday". To enter, you can click the prominently displayed Goodreads box located close to the top of the above Merryll Manning website). 


Web Site: Merryll Manning

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Reviewed by Joyce White 10/28/2010
Hi John, I agree names should be simple and easy to mouth, pleasing even. I think names should be a metaphor for their personalities
the scarier, the weirder the name. I just read a book where the names were so hard to understand, I had to keep regrouping to keep the characters in my head. Oh, well, nice article. You can find another review at I'm reading Mexican Autumn, enjoying names like Hippy Harper. My best, Joyce

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