Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Naming Characters

How do you go about naming the characters in your books?  Do you use names of friends or family or do you try to avoid names of more familiar people?  Do celebrity names influence your choices?

I personally find it very difficult to write a story with a person in mind as inspiration and try using a different name. Even if I change the name, people that I know who read the book could figure out where the name comes from.  Do you think that is unavoidable? or is it just me?

A book cover is important to me when choosing a book, but character names are too.  If they are too long or too difficult to pronouce, albeit in my head, I tend to skip over the book.

Maybe I'm just weird but I have pondered this concept for a while.   I'd love to hear your thoughts


  1. I love names. My characters often walk into my head and say, "Hey, I'm ____" and I'm like, "Okay..." There are other times when I know a character name should start with a certain letter--she just feels like an E name to me, or he feels like a W--and I'll go to and search for names. also has a random name thing where it will spit names at you, and I've found that useful for finding last names sometimes. ;)

    Other times, I have a theme. One of my books was about six sisters, and they were all named after women in Greek mythology. My upcoming book had a lot of English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish names.

    Then every once in a while I have characters who tell me they're going to be one thing, but then their personality starts to come out and that name doesn't work AT ALL. For example, my next book has Alphonse. He was originally going to be Alphonso, but that was when I thought his personality was something entirely different. When I learned what he was really like, that didn't work. (It makes me giggle, thinking of him being Alphonso now.)

    1. Thanks for the insight and the website! I had never visited that sight before but it looks very helpful.
      Now I am wondering if I should write the story first and add names later. Have you ever done that? Does it work?

    2. I've never done that--I don't think I could, LOL. A name gives a character so much identity and without that, I can't start writing them. Other people might be able to, though! Are you having trouble finding the right name?

    3. Yes, I was hoping to find a name/names before starting the story but now I am thinking that I am wasting time stressing out about it. I need to Just Do It! It won't be the first time I have done things backwards. LOL. Hopefully it will work

    4. Maybe if you just grab a random name, the real name will occur to you as you start writing--or maybe that name will stick for that character. That's happened to me; I've grabbed filler names and then I couldn't stop thinking of the character that way! Good luck!

    5. Thanks! Maybe I will try that to get started

    6. Hi Laura thanx for the insite, i have to say most of my Characters walk in my head and say "hi i am..." such and such like you said, Emma my charachter in this book i am atempting to write, has stayed emma though her hero David has changed name sevral times! men! lol hi im your newest follower!

    7. Hi Junglemum! Thanks for following! I have a few names floating around in my head so I think I am going to start with one and see where it leads me. It could be fun :)

  2. Heather, I usually name my characters after my relatives until a real name pops up for me...
    When I'm reading a book and I come across an impossible name, I just shorten it.. example harry potter's hermione was just way too long so I shortened it to hermie and just kept reading. :)

  3. Hi Linda. Thanks for the ideas. I was thinking of using relative's names but then I thought it would make me write the character too close to the relative so I don't know if it would work for me.
    I shorten names of charaters I can't pronounce too but then I am often confused if a movie comes out and it is pronounced correctly. ha ha!