Proofreading Tips: What's in a Name? Part Two

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Age Appropriate Names?

The SCBWI Conference Fringe chat on character names included a look at character age and popular names for various birth years.  If you want your characters’ names to reflect their ages it might be worth doing your homework. 

Here’s a table, extracted from ONS statistics, for England and Wales.

It’s amusing to see how names match various ages, how some names disappear from usage and how names return to fashion. This table is compiled from statistics for the whole of England and Wales in these years. There are, of course, regional differences within these countries, and you can explore the National Records of Scotland website for Scottish naming trends.

Illustrations by Catriona Tippin @proofreadingtips

Julie Sullivan’s article offers several useful links, including one on American trends in baby naming. Googling your character name is always useful, particularly for foreign or culturally appropriate names. Julie’s article has lots of advice on historical names, unusual names, and mistakes to avoid.

Author and Words & Pictures contributor Chitra Soundar recently tweeted her pet peeve regarding naming characters:

“When names are mixed up between religions! Clothes too - as if sari is a uniform in India for any girl over 5!”

Research is always the key. Happy naming!

(If you missed Catriona's article What's in a Name? Part One you can read it here)

Catriona Tippin has been a member of SCBWI since 2006 and helps organise venues for SCBWI North East. Details of her writing and illustrating can be found here. She proofreads study guides, house magazines and publicity material for national educational organisations, in addition to working on a variety of proofreads and copyedits for the growing self-published world. Her monthly column is intended to give you food for thought, remembering “Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling or typographical error” (McKean’s Law, named after its inventor Erin McKean, editor of the Oxford American Dictionary).

Louisa Glancy is a features editor for Words & Pictures.
Twitter: @Louisa Glancy

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