Character of the Week: YA Love Interest Names

Young Adult is my genre. It’s the genre I write in, and the genre that I read most often. And while I generally like to choose interesting, rare names that still fall on the popularity charts for the character’s birth yearm especially for the leads, when I’m naming I try to name to match the writer’s naming style and for the world of the novel.

I need help naming both of my main characters/love interests.

Female, 16
Born in Virginia. Her dad works for the government and it made them move around a lot. Her mom was a history professor who died before the story begins. Her mom was named Shannon, and her two younger brothers are named James and Bobby.
She is loyal with a slight tomboy attitude, kind to those she cares about and brutal to those who threaten her or her loved ones; some people think she is crazy, but she’s not.

Male, 17
Born/raised in central California, the setting of the beginning of the novel. Dad is an engineer, mom is a newspaper columnist. He has a younger sister named Lily.
He is sullen and kind of quiet, a good listener, and friendly.
Contemporary Fantasy

In this example the author uses traditional, non-trendy names. The names for the mom (Shannon) and sister (Lily) are especially age appropriate, while the boys names are more classic but still popularly used.

This writer obviously does not go for “out there” names, and even though wacky hijinks are about to ensue (the genre is Fantasy) the setting is our contemporary world. The names the writer has already used may even suggest that the normalness of the characters is going to somehow conflict with the events that will unfold.

I chose names that were popular, common and which weren’t ultra-trendy. For the girl I also offered names that were unisex (though I tend to believe those can confuse readers) or which could have boyish nicknames. For the boy I focused on names that seemed friendly.

  • Courtney (Court)
  • Kelsey (Kels)
  • Rachel (Ray)
  • Shelby
  • Jordan
  • Taylor
  • Justin
  • Oscar
  • Ryan
  • Jesse
  • Tyler

The writer replied: Thank you so much. I think I’m going to go with Rachel and Jesse. They actually fit really well with the characters!

I’m glad the writer felt the names fit the characters. That makes me feel like I did my job well. Even though these aren’t names I would necessarily choose for my lead characters, or even necessarily names I like, what I want doesn’t really matter. When naming characters the only thing that really matters is that the names serve the story.

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