Why Characters are Named

Why do I name most of the characters I write in my stories, even when I know they’re about to die?

Because reading ‘the baker down the street’ has slightly less impact than ‘Bob, the baker from down the street’. Naming a character gives the impression that the character, no matter how minor their role, is a real person. This is a tendency that I’ve gotten from reading books by David Weber. I don’t go to the incredible extent of naming that he does, but I try to make sure that any character that could come up in a later book or scene has a name.

I take pleasure in seeing that the same characters, no matter how minor, are still around in later books. Perhaps Bob the Baker is in book 1 of a story, and eight books later in the series, the main character returns to their hometown and drops by Bob’s bakery to grab a roll or something. Even if it’s just in passing, it helps my sense of immersion in the world. If the only names that matter are the main characters, the main opposition, and helpful or important characters…doesn’t that just make the rest of the world a series of cardboard cutouts? That’s how I feel, in any case.

And incidentally, yes, I put a self-insert character into Ancient Ruins. Private Benjamin Tailor. And what happened to him is about what I expect would happen to me if I got transported into the world I created.

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