Monday, May 27, 2013

Writer's Resource: Character Names

I was really happy to receive a compliment recently on the character names in my WIP. I spent quite a bit of time on those names, so it was great to hear someone thought they worked well for the story.

I spent a LOT of time on the names.

cat working hard
It's not easy to come up with names, especially if you have a large cast of characters. Here are a few resources for character names you may not have considered:
  • Random Name Generator. Sometimes you don't realize a name works perfectly until you see it written down. Try Behind the Name, which lets you specify ethnicity, gender, and number of names; the Fantasy Name Generator, which leans toward unique names and has options like "vowel heavy" names and "names with apostrophes"; and the Fake Name Generator, which not only comes up with a name--it gives your fictional character a whole identity, complete with a birthdate, blood type, and mother's maiden name!
most popular baby boy names wordle

  • The US Social Security Office's Baby Name Popularity List. You can input a year (back to the 1880s!) and it will give you a list of the most popular names in the US from that year. Don't forget, if you're naming an adult character, you'll want to look at the names that were popular during the year of his or her birth, not currently popular names.
It's worth taking the time to get your characters' names exactly right. The best names are unique and fit the characters well. Would Atticus Finch, Scarlett O'Hara, Sherlock Holmes, or Blanche DuBois be as memorable with different names?


  1. Thanks for the post. Very helpful.

  2. Could've used this post early in my novel. Didn't think about not using trendy names for older characters in books - Oops! Glad to think about it now.