To me, naming characters is an important part of writing a story. Do you feel the same? I always want to find names that will fit my characters to a T.
Many of my stories are set 120+ years ago. People back then didn’t have modern names like Aiden or Zoey. They did, however, have names like Henry and Elizabeth. So, I use names that I like and that fit in the time period. Some of my favorites are Rose, Essie, Stephen, and John.
No matter what genre you write, you’ll always have to name your characters. Here are my tips for that process:
- When you find names that are “okay” but aren’t the best, try changing them up. Annabelle can become Anna, Bella, Annie, Ella, Anne, or Ann. The last name Goldman can become Goldberg or Gold. Side note: I created the name “Merry,” a nickname for Meredith. In my writing, I’ll use Merry for a character that is either very cheerful (the name fits just right) or very rude (the name creates a funny contrast).
- With last names, you can find a name ending that you like and add onto that. Look at the name “Gillman.” Now cut out the “Gill.” What are you left with? “-man.” You can add anything onto the “-man” that you want. Here are a few examples: Goldman, Truman, Norman. You can do the same with the endings “-berg,” “-son,” and “-ette,” among others.
- Keep a list of first names and last names that you like. I keep a list and it’s a very helpful tool!
- Other Books
Think about your favorite stories. Were there any names in them that you liked? Feel free to use them in your own work. Of course, don’t use the exact same full names that you found. Writing is about creativity!
- People You Know
Do any friends have first or last names that you admire? Does anyone you’ve met in the past have a name that you like?
- Baby Naming Websites
Baby naming websites, like Nameberry and Babynames, are great tools for writers. Some websites will even tell you about the meaning behind specific names.
- School Directories & Yearbooks
School directories and yearbooks are full of names. If you don’t have these resources, see if your parents do or go to your local library!
Naming characters is an important part of the writing process. There are so many sources that you can use to find the best name for your character. My list is definitely not exhaustive, but I hope it points you in the right direction!