In my book, I am planning on having the main character be called "Samantha." However, she believes her name is too generic, so she goes by the nickname "Thana."

My question: Is it bad to have a character name be something so common? Even if that's the purpose?

  • 2
    You mean common names like "Potter" and "Harry"?
    – user16226
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 22:41

2 Answers 2


There are no wrong names unless they interrupt the story in an unintentional way. Generally, if you're writing about your name choices you're probably spending your time on details that don't matter, unless names are super relevant to whatever culture you happen to be writing about. That last scenario seems unlikely since you went for Samantha though.

Some authors intentionally choose generic names so that people can't tell what those people will do. It's a personal pet peeve of mine to be able to predict a character's arc by the name choice of the author.

But, you could also think about it this way if you need reasons. Why did her parents name her Samantha? They could have named her that because they heard the statistic that people with unusual name usually end up in jail. Or, it could be because of a relative. Or the mother just really liked that name.

Names in the end don't define people. People define their names. If you write (Saman)tha(na) well enough then her name won't matter.


I'm most stories, the character name should be chosen very carefully. Look at some on the great stories, and you'll see that the character name can help advance the stor or give a memorable performance the extra it needs.

For example, in the movie "Fire Down Below," Steven Seagal plays a character nammmed Taggert. In Scotland, it translate to "on of a priest."

In this movie, he starts his investigation working for the local church. And as the story progresses, you find that he cannot be corrupted, like he was really the son of a priest.

When i write my plays, the character's name always has a root into his character. Here is an article that appeared in Writer's Digest "The 7 Rules of Picking Names for Fictional Characters"

In the introduction paragraph, it explains in a nutshell the importance of picking a name before going into the seven reasons:

Choosing a character name for your novel is as pressure-filled as picking a name for a baby. It has to suit the character’s personality, makes sense for the era and, most important, be super awesome (sorry friends, the awesome name of Brian A. Klems is already taken by this guy). Names like Harry Potter, Holden Caulfield and Stephanie Plum are memorable not just because of the amazing stories they navigate, but also because these names “fit” those characters so well. You need a name that “fits” your character too.

Care in your character names is just as important as your story's plot. For many may forget what most of the plot was about, they surely will remember that memorable character, so long as his or her name fits the story like a glove.

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