Writing Tips

Tips for Naming Characters

Naming characters can be quite time consuming. Especially if you have dozens and dozens of characters you want unique names for. If you’re creating your own world naming characters is only part of it. You have to name countries, towns, kingdoms, ships, spaceships, creatures, animals plants, potions, wands, weapons, and the list goes on.

Below, I shared a few of my characters names—10 out of 70—and it took me a long time to name them.

Screenshot 2016-01-08 at 8.10.55 PM

Here are a few tips for naming characters…

1. List Names

Keep a list handy of your favorite names you found or created. You can always refer to it later and maybe even use them for another story. Below I posted three sites where you can find names.

http://www.behindthename.com/

http://surnames.behindthename.com/

http://www.babynames.com/name/Isaac

2. Choose Suitable Names for the Era, a Characters Status and/or Ethnicity.

If there are royal characters in your book pick names that sound noble. Or even pick ones that suit them physically. Midgie isn’t the best name for a giant like Bobin isn’t the best name for a prince.

Choose names that suit the era of your story. Names that are popular now may not have been known or popular in the 1400’s. If it takes place on another planet try creating unique names.

Try using names based on a character’s ethnicity and place of origin. The same goes for surnames.

3. Avoid Naming Everyone with the Same Letter!

Try using different first and last initials for your characters. Also make sure the names don’t sound the same either unless you have a specific reason like the dwarfs of Middle-earth: Fili and Kili: or Dori, Nori and Ori – they’re siblings. My current manuscript has two characters with similar names—brothers, Alrin and Alsar.

4. Try Using Last Names for First Names and Vice Versa.

5. Avoid Long and Difficult Names.

Avoid names that are really long and difficult to pronounce. It should catch the reader’s eye. Try to pronounce it out loud—If you have trouble more than likely the readers will too.

6. Alliterative Initials

Use this if you want a character to stand out and readers to remember your character better. Example: Bilbo Baggins, Oziah Oliendur.

7. Search for Names Everywhere

Scramble words to make them into a name or scramble a word then add letters to it to make it into something you like. I’ve done this numerous times and I came up with some names. The same method can be used for other things you want to name.

 

Remember—If you’re stuck naming a character don’t fret over it. The name can always be changed later. When I brainstorm I use the most generic names if I can’t come up with the right one yet. The name usually comes to me while I’m writing and building the character more. And it should for you too. Getting the story right is more important than naming the characters.

5 thoughts on “Tips for Naming Characters”

  1. Great advice. I like the second suggestion, which is a fun way to provide foreshadowing. For an example I recently used in a discussion with my husband, you can take “Shai’tan” from the Wheel of Time series. The pronunciation sounds not dissimilar from “Satan”, which most native English speakers are raised to associate with a negative connotation.

    I love stuff like that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I think the letter A is the most used first letter for my characters names but I think there are only 10. I have so many characters so it doesn’t really matter but I still try to avoid it.

      Like

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