Naming Characters

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I’m such a procrastinator. It’s about time I get hysterical because of my thesis, which is due in 6 days! Oh well. Still have tons to do on it, but I felt like posting first.

How do you name your characters? I have an interesting method. That is, I don’t have a method at all. I normally don’t give names too much thought. Some people do and that’s cool.

Here is how I have named a few of my characters in the past.

David

Male main character from The Resolution. Just happens to be one of my favorite names for a guy. No real reason. Boring.

Benina

Secondary female character from Hidden People. I was talking with my sister about names for this character, and she understood “Benjamin.” (I may or may not have had a crush on a guy named Benjamin at that time.) I switched the name up to make it sound feminine. Voila.

Australia

Female main character from Hidden People. Okay, this one is kind of weird. I was walking with my sister and we were talking about a name for this character. (This particular sister helps me a lot with my stories, and I love her. Not only for that though.) So we were walking past this house with a “Beware of Dog” sign. With an Australian Cattle Dog on the sign.

Yeah.

That’s where the name is from.

I am absolutely in love with the name, and it turns out that it is important that her name is Australia. Still, I think the way she got it is kind of odd. I had almost forgotten about it until my sister reminded me.

Chris

Male secondary character from Hidden People. This guy was supposed to be called Sam. I started writing calling him Sam. It was so, so strange because I kept accidentally typing Chris instead. I did it over and over again, so I finally switched the name to Chris. Somehow the name fit better. (Actually, in the same story I did the same thing for Rachel, always typing Laura instead. So weird. Has that ever happened to you? Rachel stayed Rachel though.)

How do you name your darlings? 

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25 responses »

  1. My characters’ names are chosen based on their meaning, especially my main characters. When I’m brainstorming, I summarise their personality in one or two words and use these to search for an appropriate name. For example, my main character’s wife is called Sophia, which is derived from the Greek for “wisdom”. It is also the name of an angel. The character is highly intelligent and Harlequin often refers to her as his angel. The name has further meaning which is revealed in the first novel.

      • I don’t name all my characters like that. Some of them get named on the fly and, if I still like the name in the redraft, it stays. There’s nothing wrong with how you do it 🙂

  2. I hate picking names, hardest part of the process!
    ‘Gabriel Andriacchi’, he was originally a bad guy, so I gave him that name because I thought it sounded powerful, like a gangster angel – I also looked up his surname on google.
    Roberta, my fiancé’s name turned into a girls name! Jesse, a boy from my class.
    Basically I either use real life, or google, especially for the meaning of names. So for example ‘Levi’ has a strong biblical meaning, and mainly takes on connotations of someone who is devoted.
    Great post. Bye for now!

  3. Ugh! The name struggle! Seriously, I had an easier time picking out my son’s name. I don’t know why characters are so hard for me to name, especially boy characters.

    In my first book I ever wrote (which I still have the MS for my enjoyment only) I named my main character because of the meaning behind the name. It meant something terrible, and I thought how would that affect her. Plus, I actually really liked the name until I knew what it meant, and there was a girl that didn’t like me that was named this. I considered it poetic justice. Or karma. Then with the love interests-I named them with short names, cause I don’t think guys should have super long names, and cause it’s faster to type.

    The WIP I’m working on now, the girls name I found to be pretty and knew that is what I was going to name her. But, the guy, he was giving me trouble, and seriously, I still might change it. It’s hard! I hate naming boys. Although my other male character matches his name perfectly to me, and it literally just flowed. I didn’t research for him, he just kinda made himself happen, name and all.

    I struggle majorly with names. They bug the shit out of me until I’m satisfied. There isn’t any way I go about, it’s just if it fits the character to me of not. Which can be harder to figure out than you think.

    • When I was younger (haha), I liked choosing fancier names – like Catriona or Elise. Nowadays, I keep it simpler.
      Sometimes I choose a name for a guy, which I don’t necessarily love; but as time goes on and I learn to love the character, I LOVE the name (example: Gavin).
      I couldn’t say that guy names are harder for me than boys… I could almost say girl names are harder. Don’t know why.

  4. Sometimes I choose according to the meaning; often I think about the character’s ‘fates’ and automatically come up with an adequate name. My last short story was located in Norway. Therefore, I researched some typical Norwegian names, first.

    • Yeah, I have several Icelandic names in my current story. Some are really cool. Some just sound weird, like Snorri. But it is sooo popular.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Karen!

  5. Great post, it’s really interesting to see how other authors work and their process 🙂 Naming characters is something I spend little time on as well, usually I think of a name and use the first one that comes to mind, justifying that going with my first instinct is always the best choice!

  6. Sometimes I’ll choose names because of their meaning, other times just because they sound right or fit the character I have in my head. Personally, I find that girls are way easier to name than guys!

    • I think I like naming the guys better, and maybe just because I like my guy characters better than the girls anyway. For me, it’s tough to make a nice female character that’s really likable.

  7. I’m not really sure how I choose, but I do change character names as I get to know them. They just feel like a certain name fits them, maybe the traits they have and people I know who share the name influence it. I do seem to love names beginning with E though! Which is funny as my sons name starts with a W 😀
    I love the name Australia by the way.

  8. I don’t know if I have a particular way to name my characters, but I HAVE to have them named before I can start writing. I know some people come up with them as they go along, but not me. I have an idea for a character in my mind and I read through names till one fits the personality. It doesn’t even have to have a crazy meaning or anything. Just fit my peoples 🙂

  9. I just call them “MC” or “sidekick” or “villain” until a name shows up in my brain instead. Turns out my “serial killer” is named Ian. 🙂

  10. I name my characters based on the meaning and/or the rhythm. It’s a bit complicated to explain here, but I try to make their first names go with the name of their royal houses. E.g Kendra of Kent (neither of which are names in my book, but just to give you an idea).

    I love the name Australia btw!

  11. I search baby name sites for meanings and spend hours wasting time on baby name genie. Shameless! In the end, I usually let the flow of the story pick the name (which has caused me to change character names mid-story). Happy name hunting! 🙂

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