How to come up with good names for my fictional characters when writing?

Daniel 08/12/2018. 13 answers
Arts & Humanities Books & Authors

So when I’m writing I have no problem making up characters, making a story, making a title and just know where my story go’s but one problem I always have is figuring out what I should make the names of the characters. I feel like I can’t ever find a name to me that fits or would stick a character. I like names...

13 Answers

Katrina E. 08/13/2018.

My suggestion would be to consider how the characters get their names rather than picking you think is cool. That's much more realistic and can help you with a more well-rounded character.

Think about what the character's parents were like and what did they think was a good name for her? Did they give her an ethnic name? Religious name? "Hippie" name? A traditional name? A name popular when she was born? Was she named after someone? How does the name reflect the social status of the character? This is a more thoughtful way to pick a name for a character.

But if you can't come up with a name then just use a place holder and search/replace later. Sometimes a writer can focus on small, less important things (like a character's name) as a way to avoid actually writing. Instead worry about actually writing - get a rough draft down so you can go back and rewrite/rework things. Don't depend on a name to reflectnancharacterb- your writing should do that.

Elaine M 08/13/2018.

It's the sign of an amateur to fit the name to the character. Don't do it. Real writers don't pick names that way.

Andrew 08/13/2018.

How many books have you actually read? I ask because it strikes me as a very strong possibility that many of the wannabe amateur "writers" on this forum have attempted to author a greater number of books than they've actually read. It's completely insane that so many of you don't know that the answer to practically every single one of your imbecilic questions is "read more." How does anyone come up with a name? Well, if you've read 100 books, you'd have a greater number of names for characters at your disposal than if you read ten books. Now imagine how many you'd have if you were to read 200 or 500 or 1,000. How hard is it to choose a name? Everyone has one. Is there such a thing as "a fitting name"? What if each and every "John" in the world were magically transfomed into a "Herbert" tomorrow. Would they be different people? How can people like C.S. Lewis and Tolkien coin dozens of names, but people like you can't? If you can't come up with names, find another hobby.

bluebellbkk 08/13/2018.

Scroll slowly through the closing credits of ANY movie or TV programme. There are more names there than even a Russian novelist with a four-volume family saga could use in a month of Sundays.

Gigapie 08/13/2018.

As a reader, I can assure you that I really don't care what the characters are named. As long as it's a good story that keeps my interest, you can call them Jane Doe and John Q. Public for all I care.

Marli 08/13/2018.

Look for them in old cemeteries, in the indexes of history books and biographies. (English history up to the 1500s and the Commonwealth to late Stuart periods have some very unusual names. So does American history.)

Unless you are writing fantasy, the average names are the best. The name should not take the reader's interest away from the story.

Molligot Polyglot will make kids giggle, but if Molligot is not an interesting character and does not have an interesting adventure, she won't be memorable.

Speed 08/13/2018.

Names have way less significance than you're giving them. All names really indicate is what kind of people the parents were when their baby was born. The right name doesn't impact what a character looks like, how they act, or what their opinions are. It's just a name.

I have no problem with generic names so long as they fit who the character's parents were at the time and so long as they're not too similar. I've been known to mix up Jason and Jared, Helen and Elena.

Be aware, too, that when you look at impartial lists of real people, there are a lot more unusual names, especially surnames, than you'd think. Look at team rosters, movie credits other than the actors, members of symphony orchestras, or memberships in public organizations. Even if you eliminate names with particular ethnic backgrounds because they don't fit your character, you're still left with a richness beyond Matt Johnson and Dan Roberts.

They Pelted Us With Rocks And Garbage 08/13/2018.

Quit worrying about cool names.

Your writing should make the name cool, quirky, or hateful to the reader.

ckngbbbls 08/13/2018.

Go to a used book store and pick up some baby name books. When I was actively writing(for entertaining myself), I had several baby name books and used them all the time.

I had newer and older editions and in the older ones I often found some obsolete names that worked well for a last names.

Ageof 08/13/2018.

Sometimes I steal names from people I meet, sometimes I take a first name that sounds good for the character and take a word that sounds like last name material, sometimes I'm just lucky and can think of a first name that goes good with a last name.

Some people come up with names via their meaning and match it with the character's traits, some mix up words to make names, etc.

Sir Caustic 08/13/2018.

"where my story go’s". Jesus. What a numpty.

Tina 08/13/2018.

A| unique name has to be something that has never before been used as a name. 'Writingdesk' is unique, but it sounds pretty silly. What you mean is 'unusual', but why do you particularly want unusual names anyway? have you ever picked up a book and put it down after glancing through it, because the characters had very ordinary names?

Minniehaha Mountfitchet is an unusual name - so is Heliotrope Van Altenberg, Ambergris Smith, and Golightly Dragonbeard. I don't recommend any of them. You have a name, and I assume your family and friends have names, you see names in the newspapers (or, I suppose, hear them on the news these days) PICK ONE OF THEM.and get on with writing your story.

And by the way, it's 'how the story goes', not go's.

Sgt_Anarchy 08/13/2018.

Simply search a name generator on Google and keep making it generate names until you fall in love with one. Though, if you want, you can make a name with a double meaning which will take time and a lot of brain power.