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Creating characters with great names…

Updated on November 5, 2012

Choosing names from scratch...

What's his/her's name? Don't stubble over this question.
What's his/her's name? Don't stubble over this question.
Map out your person of interest with a name that hooks them in instantly.
Map out your person of interest with a name that hooks them in instantly.

By: Anastasia Vaughan

As a writer the challenge of finding a name for a perfect new character that has popped into your head can place you in a very confusing state of mind. Choosing a name can leave many writers dumfounded. With a clear sentimental connection to each person you try to bring to life on the pages of your work its finding just the right name that doesn’t feel pretentious or take away from the beauty of your work that seems to really matter. Names much like the characters themselves stay with you as your continue to explore the possible journey of what your characters are going through and how they got there. Names not only have to be able to be differentiated by audiences but seem sensible enough for readers to feel that under the circumstances of the story they too would be able to come into contact and connect with the character whose name the writer chooses when they create their body of work. Character names can be one of two things those with deep meaning and those that create a sense of irony that takes audiences into a world that is much different than theirs. Though there are also symbolic names and suggestive names that guide you in the direction that leads you see a completely different side of the character.

Although there are infinite ways to create the names of character there are a few special ways that might be able to help you make the connection between your vision and your characters assumed reality. One of the most effective ways to come up with names that suit your case is by searching the web at sites like to find first names that match the personality behind your characters. You wouldn’t want to name that cheating girlfriend a name that means most faithful or that cowardly teenage boy a brave young warrior. Using google to figure out what options you have in the name department is a great way to piece together the life of your character. Names that are heavily associated with their characters would be much like the ones listed below.

~Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

~Scarlet O’Hara (Gone With the Wind)

~Cinderella (Folktale)

When choosing names for your character make sure that your names suit the era of your work. Plain common everyday names such as characters named Jennifer, Thomas, Peter, or Ann can timeless and provide just the easy solution you need when you simply just want to build a character with a name rather than building a character around a name. Everyone’s approach to writing is different and each writer must find their own personal niche that they are comfortable with. Think about all the people who know in your present as well as those people who you have met in your past. As yourself has any of those people had a name that really sparked your interest? Use Facebook and Twitter as well as many other social media networks that can provide you with a wide range of endless names that may peak your interest. Do any of the people photographed on these social media sites look like they could possibly be the character surfacing in your work? When in doubt as to wither or not the name of your fresh new character suits them describe the character to several close friends and see what type of feedback you get. A name is only permanent on paper once it has circulated to digital and physical print media.

Grab the phonebook when a name can’t seem to roll off the tip of your tongue. Write down as many first and last names that seem to appeal to you even if you don’t like the same first and last names that are put together to create a single person. You are the writer which means that you are in the driver’s seats taking the wheel that leads each individual character to their perspective lives. If you happen to create a names for your characters that other people don’t seem to understand right away do not feel discouraged perhaps by the end pf your novel others will fully be able to see a much clearer picture of your vision. Even though names are just as important as the characters themselves in some cases you have to be just as confident in the names you choose as you are in what is happening in your developing story lines.

You have much more time than you think to come up with a name. Just keep writing and jot something down in place of where the name should be if you can not seem to think of a good name that you feel would please you as well as your audience. Don’t stress out over the namedropping if it doesn’t’ come to you right away. By the end of the last page of your work it will probably come to you. Remember at the end of the day your work should still feel like your work. Confidence in your ability is the key.


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    • greeneryday profile image

      greeneryday 5 years ago from Some tropical country

      This so fun. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and more!