Naming Characters

Welcome back, Arrowheads! Every author has different methods for naming their characters. Some prefer classic, safe names (Nicholas Sparks, for example), while others prefer unique and rarely used names (Sarah Dessen is an excellent example of this). So, how do I go about naming characters for my novels?


Yahoo Answers

Oftentimes, I feel weird going to baby naming sites to find names for my characters, because I’m not married nor pregnant. I know, no one is going to look at my laptop’s search history, but still. So instead, one of my favorite things to do is to browse Yahoo Answer feeds for questions others have submitted about naming characters. Over time, I’ve found quite a few gems. And then sometimes… wow. Like someone’s mention of “Sierra Mist” as a name. I laughed for ten minutes. XD

Behind the Name

Again, Behind the Name is another online alternative to baby naming websites. Click on the link I provided, and it’ll take you to a random name generator. Sometimes it’ll produce some crazies, but once in a while it can some up with some awesome names. You can change the settings to provide names from different origins (Irish, German, etc.), as well as names from the Bible or literature. And, to be honest, it’s pretty entertaining.

Favorite People/Bands

Another source of names that I have utilized frequently over my writing career is using names from my family members, as well as musicians I’m fond of. Carter–one of the main characters from my debut novel, Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girlwas named after the country music duo, The Carter Twins, who have since changed their name to Kingston. Linwood Whaley High School, also from my debut novel, derives from my Grandpa’s first name and my Grandma’s maiden name. Grahamwood–the fictional town where my novels are based–was inspired by Billy Graham. Therefore, take a look at your inspirations in life, and you can find amazing, meaningful names for your characters.

The Spreadsheet

I’m an MIS major, so I excel at Excel. *Ba dum ching!* A year or two ago, after I had compiled lists of names I liked in a notebook, I got the idea to add them all in one spreadsheet so I’d have easy access to it when I’m writing. The spreadsheet is divided into the following categories:

  • Female
  • Male
  • Antagonists
  • Nerds
  • Surnames
  • Twins
  • Towns and Places

As you can see, I’m detail-oriented when it comes to these things. I’m also infatuated with naming characters, so having different tabs for each of these helps a lot. So, whenever I’m visiting one of the websites I mentioned above, or I think of someone I’d like to give a tribute to in my writing, this is where I store that idea. The spreadsheet is a major time saver whenever I’m searching for a name, so I highly recommend it!


Thanks for reading, and check back with me here at Authoring Arrowheads for more posts on Wednesdays and Fridays!

How do you go about naming your characters? What are your favorite names? Feel free to comment below!

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As an author and blogger, my goal is to teach writers that there is a way to write realistic, thought-provoking, redemptive Christian fiction that honors God while not sugarcoating the realities of the world. 

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