Aptronyms Help Character Names In Your Fiction

Jennifer Mendez The Writing Process, Writer's Resources

Have you ever used aptronyms before? What if we told you that the chances are high? At the very least, if you’re an avid reader, you’ve picked up several books that use aptronyms.

About Aptronyms

Consider Katniss, from The Hunger Games. She’s cat-like. Peeta is a bread maker. Or how about Superman? His real name, in Kryptonian, is Kal-El, which translates from Hebrew into “vessel or voice of God.”

Yes, in case it isn’t obvious already, aptronyms are names that sound like the character’s occupation, or primary description.

And here’s why you should use them in your stories.

Readers Love Characters with Aptronyms

Before anything else, consider the connection between the readers and fans, and the characters. Characters in Harry Potter, DC Comics, Marvel, TV shows like The Walking Dead or Supernatural. That connection between the audience and the characters they learn about, is a sacred one.

These are characters that children grow up with, and that they love nostalgically as adults. Characters that make adulthood seem more tolerable. They are…a bridge to a fictional place that the audience wishes they could go.

So when an author takes the time to create names that are smart, or funny, and related to the character descriptions, it’s not unnoticed. Readers love aptronyms, even if they don’t know that’s what it’s called.

Cleverness Is Always Appreciated

Authors are subject to critique, as is no surprise. Book reviews and commentary, readers going on sites like Goodreads to express their fandom, or lack thereof. But every time an author takes the time to create complete fictional lands, with thrilling characters, it’s a surefire success.

One of the best ways to do this is to be clever. Add details to the characters to make them stand out. What makes them interesting? What makes them different than other stories out there? These characters should have something about them that makes readers invested.

And it is then that the aptronyms become clear. Once you flesh out the details, and get to know these characters, it becomes easier to develop names reminiscent of who they are.

Connecting The Story

Believe it or not, it takes more then the obvious to piece together a story. It’s not just about the hook, midpoint, and resolution. It’s not just the pressure on the hero to overcome obstacles and defeat the antagonist. To connect a story, the author needs to embellish everything.

Think of it like baking a cake. You can bake the two round cakes, and affix them together with icing, but it’s not truly done without the icing on the entire thing, decorated. When you present it with flowers, or berries over-top, that’s when the guests light up.

And to embellish the characters, you need the right attire, personality, and aptronym to reflect that individuality.

Last thoughts about Aptronyms

Aptronyms aren’t a waste of time, nor are they the cornerstone of a great character. There’s been plenty without the aid of aptronyms that have done just fine, like Harry in the Harry Potter series, or Sam in Lord of the Rings. However, when the added touch of cleverness is used, it helps add a neat bow on a solid character.

Solid characters make solid stories. They each bring their share to the party, and make the story come alive. The least the author can do is be a conduit for their words, their actions. And honoring them with an aptronym showcases both your skill as a writer, and the character’s personality.