Apr 16, 2012

N is for Names

How do you pick your character names? I just throw in something that suits the gender and age when I write the first draft, I've even named one MC. But as I get to really know the character I can decide who they are.  I also like names that relate to the character's activities.

My girl detective in the DOG SHOW DETECTIVE series is called Kitty Walker - I got that from playing with lots of dog-related words.

The Paleontologist in DIGGING UP DEATH became Dusty Fields.

In my yr 7 class last year, one kid kept going on and on about some bloke his family knew called Kev. Kev was apparently a bit of a legend who starts every trend in the neighbourhood. I knew Zane's goofy best friend in MY ZOMBIE DOG had to be a Kev. Kev is now earning his own book.

I love that moment when you find just the right name for your character. How did you find yours?


  1. Apart from blogging my poetry is mostly about my life and family so don't have to choose names.

    A good "N" word and post.


  2. Love this post and agree that Names are important! ALthough, for one of my characters I thought so long and hard about it... and then after choosing and writing, realized it just wasn't an evil name. Sounded more clownish than evil, even though it's meaning was perfect. So I changed it. More hard mentally than physically with Find/Replace, but a big leap in my head.

  3. I can't actually write a new story unless I have the character names just right from the start. Sometimes names just pop into my head, and other times I have to trawl baby names lists!

  4. I can't actually write a new story unless I have the character names just right from the start. Sometimes names just pop into my head, and other times I have to trawl baby names lists!

  5. Sometimes names just come out of the aether. Other times, my choice of names has to do with the setting or the story. For instance, if I'm writing fantasy with a pseudo-medieval setting, I'll look up lists of common names from medieval Europe and see if there's anything I can use or be inspired by.

    Nice post!

    J.W. Alden

  6. As J.W. said, sometimes the name just pops out. Bud Blossom was like that; a most inappropriate sounding name for that character, but I couldn't imagine his having a different one, now.

    I have a book of baby names with the country of origins and variations, and a dictionary of 26 languages.

    For stories set in this area, I look at the phone book and the obits.

    And sometimes, as you said, I pick up a name from somebody else and HAVE to use it!

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

  7. How do I pick my character's names? I yell from my office to my husband's home office, "Give me a name for a female age ___." And he does. Done.

  8. Great N word! Usually I play around on baby name websites until I find something that fits.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  9. i have many ways of choosing a name--it is one of my favorite parts of writing

  10. I often look for names that have a hidden meaning. For example, I used Percy because Percival was the most righteous of the knights of the round table, the only one who could hear God's word. I wanted a noble and righteous character, and that name served me well.

    Another I named Lee. He is from the south, a true southerner, and there aren't too many names more southern than Lee.

    I picked the name Evander because it means Good Man.

    And so forth. I pick my names before I write the characters, because it gives me something to aim at. Your method seems a little ready-fire-aim to me, but I suppose so must mine to you!

    - Eric

  11. I will often do research and find names that suit their characters or that go with ethnic heritage. I've also used place names before.

  12. I can't function until I've got the right name for a character. I generally throw syllables into the air, muttering a few arcane incantations, until something appropriate lands.

    I blogged about this subject in more depth here.

  13. I picture the character in my head and the name usually just comes to me, but I have been known to change it mid way when I find another more interesting name!
    Blessings, Joanne

  14. Great N post. Names of characters are important. I like how you come up with names for your characters.

    When I'm writing and don't have a name for a character, I just draw a blank in place of the name. That's okay if I only have one unnamed character. If I have more than one unnamed character, I usually give them numbers. #1, #2, and so on.