What's in a character name?
Everything! You spend so much time creating a compelling character, when you're naming characters, you should spend a decent amount of time finding the fictional names that fit their personalities. Great character names are memorable.
Literary character names are used not only to identify a person but also to give insight into their personalities.
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When you're researching good character names, have fun with it. Think about the name that fits the dialogue you give them too. Remember, these are fictional character names, so don't limit yourself to what's in the phone book. Let your imagination go!
Take lessons in naming a character from the pros. Look at the female character names in the five movies below, and you'll see how professional writers use subtext in character naming. It's genius, actually. If they can do it, so can you!
5 Movies with Cool Character Names
Not only do these movies have cool character names, you'll see the actors playing those roles also have some cool names of their own! Oftentimes actors change their names to make them more marketable as well. It's Hollywood after all...
Let's take a look at five specific movies that elevate good character names to great character names. Included are snippets of dialogue to show how well those characters fit their fictional names:
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (story)
- Scarlett O'Hara – Vivien Leigh
- Rhett Butler – Clark Gable
- Ashley Wilkes – Leslie Howard
Scarlett: But you are a blockade runner.
Rhett Butler: For profit, and profit only.
Scarlett: Are you tryin' to tell me you don't believe in the cause?
Rhett Butler: I believe in Rhett Butler, he's the only cause I know.
Kill Bill by Quentin Tarantino
- The Bride – Uma Thurman
- Vernita Green – Vivica A. Fox
- Elle Driver – Daryl Hannah
Bill: Do you find me sadistic? You know, I bet I could fry an egg on your head right now, if I wanted to. You know, Kiddo, I'd like to believe that you're aware enough even now to know that there's nothing sadistic in my actions. Well, maybe towards those other... jokers, but not you. No Kiddo, at this moment, this is me at my most...
The Bride: Bill... it's your baby...
Star Wars by George Lucas
- Han Solo – Harrison Ford
- Luke Sywalker – Mark Hamill
- Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi – Alec Guiness
Han Solo: Not a bad bit of rescuing, huh? You know, sometimes I amaze even myself.
Princess Leia: That doesn't sound too hard.
Back to the Future by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale
- Marty McFly – Michael J. Fox
- Biff Tannen – Thomas F. Wilson
- Mr. Strickland – James Tolkan
Mr. Strickland: Am I to understand you're still hanging around with Dr. Emmett Brown, McFly?
[clicks with his mouth, gives Jennifer a tardy slip]
Mr. Strickland: Tardy slip for you, Miss Parker.
[gives Marty one, too]
Mr. Strickland: And one for you, McFly. I believe that makes four in a row. Now let me give you a nickel's worth of free advice, young man. This so-called Dr. Brown is dangerous. He's a real nutcase. You hang around with him, you're gonna end up in big trouble.
Marty McFly: [sarcastically] Ooh. Yes, sir.
Mr. Strickland: [pushes Marty a little bit] You got a real attitude problem, McFly. You're a slacker. You remind me of your father when he went here. He was a slacker, too.
Scarface by Brian De Palma
- Tony Montana – Al Pacino
- Manny Ribera – Steven Bauer
- Elvira Hancock – Michelle Pfeiffer
Tony Montana: I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.
Bottom-line: Have FUN naming your characters!