What’s in a Name?

How to name fictional characters


There’s been a lot of talk about the royal baby the last few days (Congratulations Will & Kate by the way) and much speculation about the new little prince’s name. While us common folk might toy with the idea of Moses, Mackenzie or Messi (yes, seriously one of my neighbours just lumbered her son with that beauty)  the Royals have to stick to traditional choices. I’m plumping for James.

But what about naming characters in your novel? I was lucky when writing Flip-Flops, to be honest, the names just fitted the characters although I did have fun with naming the animals. However, after being asked the question several times in interviews, it seems that for some, the whole process can be difficult and filled with perils.

Of course, if you’re writing a book set in World War II it’s unlikely your heroine will be called Kylie or Jaiden and the name also has to fit, I mean Darren Smith and the Philosophers Stone doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Here are a few things to consider when christening your literary characters;

Say the name out loud, this is extremely important; if you haven’t already check out the story of Dickens Cider to see why.  Also if your book is audio-enabled the name should be clear and easily understood.

A terrific way to draw attention to a character is to use alliteration, for example, Bilbo Baggins, Willy Wonka and Peter Parker but this can be overdone and you don’t want everyone in your story to have double initials.

The key is to mix it up have names that sound different and are of different lengths, avoid ones with the same endings such as Jason and Mason and god forbid don’t have any that rhyme such as Tina and Nina or Chelle and Belle

Ethnicity is also an important consideration no native North American Indian is going to be called Mabel and similarly, an English aristocrat is unlikely to be called Vladimir and as any author knows there are always people eager to point out mistakes

A good name should be easy to pronounce, roll off the tongue, be from the right era and perhaps most importantly fit the personality of the character, you’re not going to want to name a serial killer Peaches for instance.

Don’t name characters after people you know, especially not really horrible ones, you don’t want a lawsuit or them coming after you with a chainsaw

Think unique, meaningful and suitable and you won’t go far wrong and if you get stuck make like William and Kate and start scouring those baby names books.

Do you have any tips, when choosing names for your characters? Are there any characters you think were misnamed? Are there exceptions to the rule?






Flip Flops, Fiesta & Flamenco by Donna Hepburn

Thank you for a great review, glad it made you smile

The humorously written first page instantly grabbed me with myself being a fifty something menopausal woman and boy do we need to laugh at ourselves when we reach that time of life. Luckily, unlike Abby,  my husband hasn’t run off with his Secretary. Mostly because his Secretary is me, but I love these stories of people who rise up from the ashes, especially when it’s written with humour.

Abby is offered the chance to go and live her dream in Spain with best friend Lou and, after dismissing it initially, she realises what a great opportunity it is and off she goes leaving her two grown up sons to fend for themselves. The friends pack up their belongings and head off to the continent with a dog and two cats and a box full of shall we say “interesting” items.

Author Donna Hepburn is a self-confessed non-lover of chic lit…

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‘Flip flops, Fiesta and Flamenco’ by Donna Hepburn

Thank you so much for this fantastic review Samantha

This Girl Reads

‘Flip flops, Fiesta and Flamenco’ is the wonderful debut novel from Donna Hepburn, following the journey of two friends – Abby and Lou – as they move and settle in Spain after a surprise bingo win.

We see the lives the women both leave behind, one decisively better than the other, as well as learning about the history the girls have as long-standing friends. This is something so rare in reality and Donna really captures the essence of life-long friendships – the easiness, the comfort and the laughter from many years of memories. I loved these characters by the end of the book and was already harassing poor Donna on Twitter to put me on the top of the list for her next in the series!

Lou and Abby make friends along their travels; including some lovely Spanish hombres, the local ex-pats in the area, and lots and lots of…

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Tuesday Teaser


For those of you who are enjoying the first novel in the Meditteranean Dream series

Flip-Flops, Fiesta & Flamenco

Here is a short teaser of what’s to come in the next book- High Heels, Hope and Hacienda

“They were interrupted by the screech of tyres as the Mercedes once again pulled up outside. Abby finished her gin and tonic in one as the passenger door slammed shut. The previously immaculate Lou stomped toward the door, hair all over the place, beautiful Zara blouse in tatters, a grazed knee and wearing only one Jimmy Choo…Oops, it looked like she’d met the new addition to their ever-increasing animal clan; Loco Lucy.”

As you may have guessed the animal antics continue in the second installment and Abby and Lou each have their fair share of problems to contend with; resulting in more laugh out loud moments

High Heels, Hope & Hacienda is due to be released this summer




Flip Flops, Fiesta & Flamenco book, keyring, bar or chocolate and flip flop mug

Giveaway time!!

Chicklit lovers; I have some goody bags up for grabs, which include a signed copy of Flip-Flops, Fiesta & Flamenco. A bar of chocolate (brand may vary as I will probably have scoffed this one before the competition ends) A mug stating-Life is Better in Flip-flops (It sure is) A keyring and a rather flimsy bookmark (printed by my own fair hand)

The winner’s name will also appear as a character in the next installment of the Meditteranean Dream series High Heels, Hope and Haciendas (Out this summer) and also get a mention in the acknowledgments.

To enter, just comment below, sign -up for my newsletter and share this post on social media.

(I promise, no spamming)

Open until April 5th.

Good luck everyone!

Do you love Chicklit?-Reviewers Required!

So, my debut novel has now been published and all I need now is some lovely people to review it. I am also happy to participate in interviews, Q and A’s or submit a guest post if preferred

“You can kill a book quicker by your silence than by a bad review.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri


Flip Flops, Fiesta, and Flamenco is the first in a series of three books about two best friends, their lives, loves and adventures after moving to a small village in the Andalusian hills

Abby and Lou have been BFF’s since the first day at Uni. Despite being opposites in both looks and personality they were drawn to each other sharing a flat, dreams and a love of animals. Through the ensuing years despite heartache and divorce, they remain as close as ever.

Abby would be the first to admit her life needs an injection of fun. Middle-aged, divorced and slightly overweight she’s a mother/general dogsbody to two layabout sons, a pink-haired Amazonian on-off girlfriend and an incorrigible British Bulldog named Chester, her lifelong dream of living in Spain’s glorious sunshine has been long forgotten or has it?

Lou was stuck in her own rut, never fully recovered from a tragedy in her past a long list of online dating disasters had left her wondering if she will ever find love again.  Her cool ice-maiden persona is shattered along with her cat’s eardrums when she wins £400,000 on an online bingo site. Could this be the answer to both their prayers?

Flip-Flops packed, they embark on their adventure but it isn’t all sun and sangria. Warring pets, new neighbours, Cooking experiments, scary wildlife and an escapee Donkey named Santos, combine to make it an unforgettable Summer. Can their friendship survive or will the Mediterranean dream become a nightmare?

Publication Day


I never thought this day would come, but it just goes to show if you have a dream you should never give up. A big thank-you to Junction Publishing for believing in me, my wonderful partner for putting up with my moods and everyone who has helped make this possible

Flip-flops, Fiesta & Flamenco

The first in the Meditteranean Dream Series here is what some people have been saying about the book; 

It’s quite a bit like Under the Tuscan Sun actually. I can totally see them making a movie out of this. I think a majority of people reading this book would LOVE to be able to trade places with Abby. Can’t wait to read the next book and find out what new adventures Abby and Lou live.” (Serena)

“Flip-Flops, Fiestas and Flamenco is a bright and refreshing read. It’s incredibly funny, the descriptions are often times hilarious.” (TRA)

“I started reading this only a couple of days ago and couldn’t go to sleep last night until I had finished it. It was lighthearted, easy reading, fun. Being into dog rescue myself in Spain and having lived here for 16 years, I can easily see where Donna is coming from. Highly recommended.” (Deb)

“Flip-flops, Fiestas and Flamenco is an effervescent, eclectic smorgasbord of engaging, strong characters (human and animal), calamitous capers, bellyaching laughter, and a liberal dusting of heartwrenching moments. Well written and eminently readable, I found each page of the book delightfully engaging.” (Calla May Diamond)