Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

How do you name your Characters? (1 Viewer)

Status
Not open for further replies.

MorganaPendragon25

Senior Member
When it comes down to naming your characters, do you prefer giving them a unique/uncommon name or a common name? From my viewpoint, I prefer giving my characters a unique name; I suppose some good examples are names like Sarai, Saryn, Aspen, Quinn, etc. I find common names to be rather boring...examples, naming your character Bob, Nick, Jack, etc. Y'know perhaps Bob in a story is a super cool character and super awesome personality, but idk I just find a character with the name Bob to be a boring name because it's an overused name in our world (sorry, no offense to anyone who has that name here...just my opinion when it comes to posing originality vs. the opposite in naming a character).

I love character with names that I can remember. Oh there's this cool warrior woman named Quinn in this book I read. Quinn is a very uncommon name, especially in books. Her name would stand out to me and I will remember her. Makes me appreciate her character even more. I suppose names like Harry Potter and Ron Weasley...yeah...they flow and stuff like that, but I'm not a fan of the names Harry and Ron as they're fairly common in today's world.

And what about a character who disliked the name her parents gave her at birth? What if she legally changed it to a name she preferred and was more unique? Have you ever thought of having a character like that or have read one?

Please share your thoughts on naming your own characters, especially if you think much of using common names vs. uncommon names!
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
For me, how common or uncommon a character's name is depends not only on that character, but on the story genre, setting, etc. Common names make sense in some cases...if the characters the names belong to are regular people in a realistic setting, I would expect those names to include more common names. When the setting calls for it though, I enjoy getting creative with names. My work in progress takes place in both the real world and in a fantasy setting, but most of my characters are from the fantasy setting...so I don't really have any super common names (like Bob).
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Names are an interesting element of writing. In general, I find it's the combination of first and second name that's important, although during the course of the story, regardless of how common the name is, it will eventually 'feel' unique simply because you've identified with them.

Harry (a really common name)
Potter (a common second name in Britain)

There's nothing extraordinary about Harry Potter. But there is now.

So, my advice would be not to think of a single element of their name, but to think of how their full name resonates.
 
Last edited:

druid12000

Senior Member
Years ago, I was developing a story about a demon and the name Dhallefalambar just popped into my head. I have yet to write the story, but the name has stuck.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
It's hard to explain but I come up with names that sound like they would fit the characters, just by sound and pronounciation and I use those. Is that a crazy way of doing it?

I took a writing class and they said that you should name your characters based on the names defining their character traits. But I find this doesn't always work without the names sounding strange. For example, in my WIP the main character is a cop. Now I could name him Lamont, since Lamont means lawman, but I asked a couple of people's opinions and they said it sounds like a butler's name, and I should choose sound of the name, rather than definition, if that's true...
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
Some examples:

I picked "Joan" because it seemed fitting for an anglicized Norman. It's also one syllable (in English) so it fits nicely into the prose.

I picked "William" because I wanted the character to seamlessly transition to "Wilhelmina," which is arguably the most badass name ever. It represents the transition from a regular old name to an elaborate, flowing, beautiful thing.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
Norman ‘William’ = Guilelm, Guillehem, Gooillellem. Any one of these called - would attract his attention from among the crowd of tiny peasants. He is broad & fearsome, noble lineage, of course.

Now our Willhemina is more of our Victorian piano tutor. And her nose is rather spiky. Broad also, she fiddles with pearls strung around her throat. Always looking out of the window.

You shall find these definitions are definitive. [tap tap creative telephone tap tap can only see four words any one moment tap]
 

Terra

Senior Member
I collect names from interactions with real people - Meredith for example, is a friend's niece - the moment I heard the name, I knew it was the name of my MC in a romantic novella I had brewing in my head. It's interesting that once I determined her name, her storyline took on a life of its own. I'm still searching for the male lead's name though, so the story has stalled abit.

My family lineage (I've been digging into ancestry.ca) is also a source for names ... cemeteries and movie credits too.
 

Riptide

WF Veterans
I just... go onto name generator and spin the dice. But I also don't mind picking a name that has a cool nickname. Like, I wouldn't mind a Nick and Nataly twins who go by Knickknack when they're together.

Or, have you seen the meme about someone going by Cass and everyone thinks her name is Cassandra but it's actually Casserole? that'd be funny to play with
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
How I name characters usually falls into two categories:

1) I have an original name in mind that popped into my head, and I use it.

2) I have only a letter, then end up going on a baby naming website to look at options and see what fits best.

-JJB
 

MooreMom523

Senior Member
I'm glad I searched this thread, as I was wondering today how others named their characters. For me the process involves:

1) Deciding if a character's name needs to signify something about them based on the plot/time period/genre - I find that in fantasy names often hold meaning, names could also be important if you are writing a story where lineage or other family relations (whether known or unknown by the character) are going to be a plot point. Also if you are writing in a time period you don't want to accidentally use a name from that period that is already well known for something else.

2) That aside, I also ask myself how much I like typing the name repeatedly. Which is what I was discussing with a friend I'm collaborating with today. We were picking the name for a character we were introducing to the story and I requested that we at least make it a name that isn't obnoxious to type potentially many times.

3) Where the character is from also plays a part.

4) If all else fails I just go with a name that sounds pleasing to my ears at the time, but I have been known to comb back through and change a character's name after the character has unfolded some bits of themselves to me.
 
Last edited:

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
In my novel Redemption, that’s due out in early August, I named my FMC Eris Johnson, Eris is the Ancient Greek goddess chaos. The MMC is Tom Daimos, Daimos is the god of destruction.
 
Last edited:

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
4) If all else fails I just go with a name that sounds pleasing to my ears at the time, but I have been known to comb back through and change a character's name after the character has unfolded some bits of themselves to me.
I have done the same. Sometimes the character's heritage comes to life. Then, I have to replace the name with something that makes sense with their lineage. I have one right now that is Peter Shaffer, but he is Irish Catholic...so I don't think that will work. But it's hard to let go of those first impulses.
 

Irwin

Senior Member
Scrivener has a built in random name generator based on country of origin. This is what it gave me with the defaults:
Daveen Silberling​
Nyssa Yeo​
Arion PervejSajjad​
Toru Scarlett​
Elepheteria Doke​
Saeed Gianfrancesco​
Gerwalt Randhawa​
Andrew Noller​
Yancy Cardon​
Plancina Sachs-Hirsch​

Even if you choose American, it generates weird names:
Tamay Haynes​
Jaiden Luna​
Areyanna Leach​
Jaidyn Gentry​
Hayleigh Mercado​
Maslynn Moss​
Kyndra Adkins​
Cloee Valdez​
Tyrianne Richardson​
Kaity Bradley​

I'm not sure how useful that is.
 

MooreMom523

Senior Member
Scrivener has a built in random name generator based on country of origin. This is what it gave me with the defaults:
Daveen Silberling​
Nyssa Yeo​
Arion PervejSajjad​
Toru Scarlett​
Elepheteria Doke​
Saeed Gianfrancesco​
Gerwalt Randhawa​
Andrew Noller​
Yancy Cardon​
Plancina Sachs-Hirsch​

Even if you choose American, it generates weird names:
Tamay Haynes​
Jaiden Luna​
Areyanna Leach​
Jaidyn Gentry​
Hayleigh Mercado​
Maslynn Moss​
Kyndra Adkins​
Cloee Valdez​
Tyrianne Richardson​
Kaity Bradley​

I'm not sure how useful that is.
Working in education..I can assure you those weird american names generated don't even come close to the reality of strange names out there on a regular basis 😆
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
I usually look up baby names and their meanings from the country I'd like my characters to originate from.
 

Irwin

Senior Member
Working in education..I can assure you those weird american names generated don't even come close to the reality of strange names out there on a regular basis 😆
I don't doubt it, but you'd think a name generator intended for use in literature would provide more usable names. They do allow users to import their own lists from which the software will generate names. I'm going to see what's available out on the interwebs.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top