Tips for how to improve your writing so that your movella can get noticed and read!


6. Setting and Character Names

Don’t give an intelligent character a dumb name because guess what? It makes them sound dumb.

Give the character a name that suits their personality, and that also adds to your characterisation of them. Don’t just pick a name because you love it and would give that name to your future child. 

For example, when writing a character that is British, you need to pick a name that sounds British. Tyson or Jace are not British; they sound very American, and they shatter the illusion that the character has been born and bred in the UK.

Having names with odd alternate spellings is also a bit of an eyesore when you reading e.g. why would you name a character Aaleyah when Aleah is far more simple, and easy for readers to remember. Other examples: Aaryannah for Ariana. Yes, I have seen it! I don't want to have to sound out the alphabet every time I think of a character's name.

One last thing with names - don't give them a million middle names, unless they are some kind of royalty. Anna-Marie Louise Roxanne Brielle Ariane Adams is a baby name book, not a character name. It doesn't sound nice, and what is the purpose? Are you trying to live vicariously through your characters and give them every single name you wish you had for yourself?


I spend a lot of time on baby name websites, especially those that focus on names from other nationalities. I never pick a name purely based on its popularity now; but what I like to do is find what names were popular in a particular year and use that to my advantage. For example, if I have a character that was born in 1994 in Scotland, I look at what names were popular for babies in 1994 in Scotland and pick something that fits with that. All you need to do is use Google.


Relating to this is setting. If you have never visited a country, or lived in it, make sure you do some research about it. All my published work revolves around Harry Potter and One Direction - the real annoying thing is that I have never visited the UK. 


However, I google a lot of stuff about it. I watch documentaries about it. I watch different television shows - modern ones as well as the older shows. I pay attention to the details e.g. how fashions have changed with given names, clothing, entertainment etc. Remember that places also exist beyond how they are represented by the entertainment industry. To learn about the UK, I watch various Youtube videos to see what modern day Britain is like. I read news articles about current and past political/social issues. I watch their reality television. With the internet, magazines, books, television etc there are so many different ways to absorb yourself into another culture. 


My internet search history is a curious place to be ;)


Another fun way to do it is to eat the food of that culture. I am lucky that there is a store quite close to where I live that imports food from the UK, so I can go and taste some of the food they eat (FYI Sherbet Lemons are not THAT delicious, but Cadbury chocolate spread is better than Nutella).

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