6 Ways To Name Your Characters Without Going Crazy
There are few things more frustrating than trying to come up with a clever, original name for a character in a story or movie. And even fewer things are more aggravating than when the character’s actual name is something as mundane as Jane Smith or John Doe. Naming your characters can be a daunting task if you’re not sure where to start. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are six handy tips to help you name your characters without going crazy. I’d like to note in advance that none of these are groundbreaking, we all just hit a dead end on occasion and I’d like to offer some options that could help out.
When it comes to naming characters in your novel, there’s no one right answer. After all, the names are only props to help you create a vivid and engaging story.
1. Use a baby naming book or website:
We’re starting off by going a bit cheap. Sometimes, a baby naming book or website can be the way to go as you’re not only getting a list of names but their meaning. The ‘meaning’ behind a name can really help guide your character as they progress. Also, if you’re trying to find a unique name or one that is overly used this can help your character stand out in a crowd or blend into the background.
One area that using these resources really fits is when writing a period piece. You wouldn’t want to use a name that is very common now when writing a tale set in the 1700s. Adding a bit of accuracy here to your fiction can really have it fit in for those who are truly invested in the smaller details in your work.
2. Name them after a celebrity:
Celebrity naming characters can come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re looking for a name that evokes the energy of your favorite celebrity or one with a meaning that reflects your personality, there’s likely a name out there that is perfect for you. So, let’s get creative and come up with some character names inspired by celebrities! Think about famous people who have had an impact on your life – their work, their mindset, or just their general badassery.
That being said, taking just the first or last name of a celebrity for your character, if it is unique enough to be noticed, connects your character’s persona with the celebrity’s persona on a subconscious level.
3. Name them after their features:
When naming characters, it is important to consider their features.
For example, characters with strong personalities can be given names that reflect this trait. Characters who are cunning and manipulative could have names that reflect these qualities. Conversely, characters who are gentle and compassionate could be named after things that represent these qualities. Additionally, characters with unique skills or abilities can be named after things related to those skills or abilities.
Another example is if a character has blond hair and blue eyes, they might be named Bree or Skye. These names are descriptive and fit the character perfectly. Other characters might be named after colors because that is what stands out about them. Sometimes a name can also reflect a personality trait of the character. For example, Sunflower may be named after the sun because she is always positive and happy.
Naming characters after these traits can also help personalize them to the reader and allow for them to more easily associate with and picture the character.
4. Name them after their occupation:
When creating characters for a story, it can be helpful to think about their occupations. This can help you come up with names that fit their personalities and backgrounds. Historically, characters in literature and movies are often named after their occupation. This trend can be traced back to the days when writers and filmmakers relied on real-life people for inspiration. Nowadays, it’s more common for a character to have an easily recognizable name, regardless of their occupation. That doesn’t mean it isn’t still a useful tool to use, especially in a period piece. Just think of how many surnames are historically taken from occupations. A few examples are: “Smith, Potter, Cooper, Mason, Taylor, and Weaver.”
That is barely scratching the surface!
While occupational names are often fun and quirky, they can also be quite meaningful if taken seriously.
Naming characters after their occupation can help draw attention to the role they play in the story or plotline.
5. Use a random name generator:
This one may feel a bit like cheating.
Naming characters can be difficult and sometimes frustrating. If you’re looking for a name that’s unique, but not too random, you could use a random name generator. These tools allow you to choose from a variety of names and then have them generated for you. This can help to give your character an edge in the game or story that they are appearing in.
This really helps if you have a set time period or style that you’re writing in and are just drawing a blank. If anything, generating a few names of that type could really help get the creative juices flowing!
6. Name them after a mythical creature:
Naming characters can be difficult, but there are some mythical creatures that are perfect candidates for character names. Do you have any favorite mythical creatures? If so, why? For some people, they may love the idea of a dragon because it is such an iconic and powerful creature. Others might find joy in the company of unicorns because they are mysterious and magical. Use this love or an existing creation to not only name your character but craft them as well.
Whatever your reason for loving these names, it’s important to choose them wisely.
In literature and film, naming characters after mythical creatures is often a way of the author demonstrating a personality or train of a character, or creating an air of mystery. Sometimes these creatures are used as metaphors for larger issues or ideas.
There are a TON of ways to come up with creative names out there and this list is really just hitting some of the low-hanging fruit. That being said, everything that we’ve listed here really is a perfect way to start on your naming search.
So, tell us, which method is right for you?
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!