What makes a good character name? A bad one? Well, in fantasy novels, it is my understanding with elves with apostrophes in their name are more important than the ones with fewer. But that’s the limit of my understanding. So this Millions essay examining how Edith Wharton nails it is good reading for me.
An ideal name, to me, conveys as much as possible about the character, while landing on this side of formulaic or self-consciousness. It sounds plausible and real, but somehow resonates at a frequency that, at every appearance of the name, alerts the reader to important things about the character that it may take the entire novel to fully reveal. There are many examples of this, but the novel I’ll examine here, Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, offers a masterclass in the art of character naming.