Naming Our Characters: Part 1


Naming our people is a lot more difficult than we think. Especially if we’ve already written the book and have to go back and change those we love so very deeply into some unknown entity.

“But, but, but . . .”

I know, I know. There, there.

Hindsight makes us use bad words and get frustrated but we are doing this for the good of the book. Our readers won’t know we’ve changed the names. Our characters won’t even notice. Our characters are much more malleable/accepting about these things than we are.

However, if you need to go in there and change a name, this is how I do it. (If anyone out there has some other suggestions about changing names easily, please let us know by way of a comment. Thanks.)


Let’s say we have discovered that we have a Fanny, a Fran, and a Frank in our book. (In a future post, I’ll explain why similar names, and even names with the same starting letter, are not a good idea.)

Let’s say that Fran and Frank are minor characters and Fanny is important. Let’s keep “Fanny” then.

find the name Fran and replace all with Felicity.

There we go. That was easy.


What the heck is this word? Felicitytic. And what’s this? Felicitytically, and this Felicityk, and this Felicityce?

Seems it found every single “fran” and changed it to Felicity: frantic, frantically, Frank, France.


Click undo. Start over.

find and replace all Frank with Ernest, first. Unless we’ve used “frankly, my dear” in our book, there shouldn’t be too many other “franks” inside a word, although there are: frankfurter, Frankenstein, frankincense, Franklin, frankness, Frankfort, franks, Franktown, Frankton . . .

The faster way is the find and replace all, but if we have used Franklin or Frankenstein extensively in our book, we can do a single find next and replace and search for Frank one at a time. When you find it, click replace. Then click find next again. replace. It’s slower this way, but perhaps quicker in the long run if it means we don’t have to read the whole book over again.

But that’s the hard way. I wanted you to see the hard way so you’d understand the principle behind this:

To make it tremendously easier, click the box that says MORE >>

screen shot MORE

There, you will see several boxes. Tick the box that says match case. And also tick the box over on the right that says match suffix.

screen shot MATCH CASE

Click replace all.

And there you have it.

Next Post — May 16 — we’ll discover some whys.

Sherrill Wark is the author of Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them:

… and Death in l’Acadie: a Kesk8a story (fiction):


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