Congratulations, you’ve decided to write a book. You’ve found a viable idea, have done your research, have your initial outline done and you are ready to sit down and start writing. Now, how to come up with character names. I’m a sucker for a good name. I like names that are really different and different spellings of names too. How do you come up with character names? I have a few different ways of coming up with names for my characters.
How to Come Up With Character Names
Start with names you like
When I first started compiling a list of both male and female character names, I just wrote down names that I like.
Think about names you don’t like
I think everyone has names that they are not fond of. For example, I don’t like the names Josh, David or Frank. Nothing against people with these names, but I have not had good experiences with people who have had these names. I would never use them as a character in my book.
Keep your eyes and ears out
I am always listening for different names in conversation and looking at people’s name tags who work in stores and restaurants.
Find names on social media
Pay attention to the names of the people who post in the groups you are in on social media. There are many times I have come across a cool first name and have added it to my list. Social media is a great way to find new and interesting names.
Other Ways to Come Up With Names
What are some of your favorite foreign countries?
Think of places, you either have traveled or would like to travel out of your country and look up popular names from that country. For example, I love the Irish name Padraic which is the Gaelic form of Patrick.
Baby Name Books
A few years ago I bought a baby name book at a garage sale and it has been one of my favorite resources. Sometimes I look through it to add names to my list when it’s running dry.
Baby Name Lists
Go online and look at baby name lists. If you are looking for names that are popular now this is a great place to start.
Reedsy Character Name Generator
Reedsy is a really awesome platform that has a free book editing tool which is a free epub and pdf typesetting tool. (More on that in another post.) They also offer a character name generating tool. You can choose from different countries, medieval names, God names, fantasy names and archetype name generators. I haven’t used this yet but I definitely plan to in the future. Reedsy also offers other services as well including editing, design, marketing, publicity, ghostwriting, and web design.
You can find several books on Amazon about character names.
Think about the kind of story you are writing and choose the names off your list that you think will best compliment your story-line.
From there, look up the meaning of each name and then choose the best one for your hero and heroine. For me, I think this will not only help flesh out a character sketch but it will also help incorporate characteristics in my character that go along with the meaning of their name. This will also help in developing a more well-rounded character.
So, what’s in a name? The perfect concept of your character. I hope by using some of these ideas, you will not only grow a list of names that you love but also have extra inspiration from the names you pick to build strong, robust characters.
These are just a few ideas for how to go about naming your characters. My favorite strategies are keeping my eyes and ears open, keeping an eye out on social media, and my baby name book. Do you have a favorite way to come up with character names? Is there a book or tool that you know of that I missed? I would love to hear about it.