Character names

Readers remember character names by the first letter. It’s true.

Whenever I’m writing new stories or novels, or editing my own or clients’ work, I complete a table of the characters’ names that appear in the story. M is often the most popular so using a table is a great way to see whether you favour a particular letter over any others. It’s also incredibly useful to prompt you to use different letters when creating your new characters. So…

Create your table thus (alternatively click on the links below for blank templates):

Character table – novels
Character table – stories

  • Six columns wide
  • Twenty-seven rows deep.
  • Your column headings are: Letter, Female first, Female surname, Male first, Male surname, Places / things.
  • Type / write A to Z down the first column.
  • Complete the form with the names you’re using and at the end put the chapter number they first appear in… example below.
  • NB. If you’re writing short stories, you’ll have less names and you may not use surnames so you can use one column per story and ensure that each name has a different letter.

It should look like this…

Letter Female – first name
(& chapter number)
Female – surname
(& chapter number)
Male – first name
(& chapter number)
Male – surname
(& chapter number)
Places / things
A  Adam 4
B  Beryl 12
C   Clark 4

So we know the story has Adam Clark first appearing in chapter 4 and Beryl (who may not have a surname or it may be later in the alphabet) appearing for the first time in chapter 12.