Darlene Franklin — Character Names

Today I’m excited to welcome an old friend who isn’t old at all, Darlene Franklin. Darlene was one of the first writers I ever met about 12 years ago when I attended a writers group called Jubilee Writers in Denver. But that’s a story for another day.

Darlene, how can you help us with naming our characters?

Choosing names is always a challenge, but I gave myself a unique problem in the two books about the Cortland family (apple orchard growers in Vermont.) Cortland is an apple variety, of course, and my hero quickly became “Mac,” short for MacIntosh.

So Mac and his first wife wanted to use apple names for their twin girls. Today there are several great names I could use, but I wanted varieties I was certain were available in 1893. After a lot of checking, I settled on Margil and Pippin. When they went to college, Margil shortened her name to “Marg” (pronounced “Marge.”) Pippin stuck with her complete name.

At first, I chose whatever names occurred to me. Then I discovered that I used “Sam” in every book and “Morris” was a favored last name.

Next I went through a phase of matching ethnicity and meaning to the character. I dropped that after I came up with some of less than favorite names, such as Audie Howe and Hamish Ferguson.

Now I primarily use name lists for both given and surnames. That way, I can keep my names historically appropriate for my stories. My readers love it when I use their names in my books. I use them for secondary characters, especially in contemporary books.

I also create an alphabet list and keep my characters from having the same initial or similarly-spelled names. They can even sound the same; the eye doesn’t register the similarity. But Clara and Claire, Sue and Suzanne, will leave your readers confused.


Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his familyShe is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals.

Website and blog


Amazon author page

Twitter: @darlenefranklin

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