7 Tips on How to Name Your Character

My apologies for this being posted a day late; I had finished everything for this post other than one thing in the email, and I had to run to get ready for work. πŸ˜‚ But it’s here now! Enjoy πŸ™‚


I’m not sure how many posts are out there that teach writers how to name their characters; probably none, because who even writes a post on this subject?? Literally every writer ever has named characters before! Who would think that anyone would need to hear advice on this?

Well…

Me, apparently.

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*pushes glasses up my nose* I have named many a character in my time as a writer. I would actually go so far as to say more than most people. If we set someone who has written as long as I have side by side with me, I’d probably still exceed them. That’s mostly due to the first books I wrote: they were a trilogy, and I had like 64 main characters. (I don’t know what to call them now, because they clearly all weren’t a main character, but that’s what I used to refer to them as.)

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Over the 6 years I’ve been writing for, I have noticed a couple of things about naming characters – and for some reason, I decided to write a post about it. πŸ˜‚ (That was an impeccable intro πŸ‘Œ Now absolutely everyone will definitely want to read this post. Pitching at its finest!) (Note my sarcasm. πŸ˜‚)

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Pinterest

I like to talk about Pinterest a lot, but seriously; it can be so helpful to us writers!

When it comes to names, there are actually a lot of ideas on Pinterest; some are very unique, and others even come with meanings or the origins listed. I keep a whole board of them – though to be honest, I haven’t touched Pinterest very much in the past while. And I actually have two boards. But one is a secret. Is secreted. I don’t know the wording for this. πŸ˜‚

I dunno why I’m writing like this today but it amuses me.

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Keep a Running List

Again: something you see from me a lot. But I just love lists! They’re so helpful!

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Whenever I see or hear a name I like, I like to kind of go ooooOOOOOOoooooh! And then I write them down. It’s great.

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Also, J.K. Rowling used to do this. Probably not the ooooOOOOOOoooooh part, but she would take note of unusual names she heard. πŸ˜‚

Location

Consider what time period your character is from and what part of the world they live in. That can really affect what kind of name you’ll choose.

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Also, things like ethnicity and religion can also affect what kind of name your character might have.

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Meaning

I know this bit might not matter to some people, but if you have a specific trait in mind for your character, maybe look up names that mean that. When I choose out a name, I tend to also look up what they mean – and in my most recent WIP, for example, I’ve had to take name meanings into serious consideration for story reasons. πŸ˜› Not to mention, it’s kind of a fun little thing for a reader to find. πŸ˜ƒ

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Personality

Think about your character and what their personality is like. If they’re more sweet, their name might be like. Or maybe the exact opposite because of the irony.

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Nicknames

I think that it’s cool to set up a name that can have a nickname in it. Both my characters in my NaNoWriMo 2020 novel had names that could have nicknames (though I later changed one, soooooo now it can’t. Oops.). This can be fun when you know your character might not want one, or when it would fit them – or maybe if they just dislike their name.

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Trust Your Gut

This is honestly my biggest tip of all; I tend to really just trust my gut reaction to names. When it feels right, it just feels right. As in it is right. πŸ˜‚

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Don’t forget to save this post for later!

Finding a character name can be fun, and you can add cool stuff on to it. It’s like a fun behind-the-scenes thing for readers to find someday – and also satisfying and evil-author-ish for you. Which is obviously the most important point. 😝

Also, all these tips apply to all your characters! Not just protagonists. πŸ˜‰


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

Character Problems: Not Making Things Personal From Day 1

The One Thing All Stories Need

7 Actionable Tips on Finding Your Unique Writing Style {Every Writer is Different}


This post was a little more short and sweet today, but I hope you liked it! I have more stuff coming up, so if you’re interested in seeing the fun I have up my sleeve, make sure to subscribe! πŸ˜‰ I send out emails with special inside info with every post, as well as a monthly newsletter – not to mention a free 7-day course on defeating writer’s block, and the password to my Resource page! It’s lots of fun, and I’d love to see you on the inside! πŸ˜„

This is the first post after a super long series! Who else here is relieved that it’s a standalone one? *raises hand*

How do you usually choose out character names?

And what’s the largest cast of characters you’ve had to name in a single book or series?

Julia

Photo by Tyler McRobert on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “7 Tips on How to Name Your Character

  1. I think there’s something between 60 and 80 named characters in my project, though some only have nicknames. Many of those names are pretty much random, though some have a direct inspiration (such as latin names of plants or animals).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, you totally beat me out for number of characters πŸ˜‚ Good job with naming all of them! Oh, that’s so cool! I love the idea of naming characters after things like that. πŸ˜ƒ

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I guess the thing with fantasy names is that real inspiration can only go so far, hence the large amount of random names. I don’t even know what gave me a specific idea in most cases.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Fair enough; I know that when I have to name random characters, I don’t usually put in as much thought into them. If they’re only going to appear once, then I don’t need to think about it TOO hard, right? 🀣

          Liked by 1 person

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