Anyone who has done anything to do with fictional writing knows that it can be difficult to choose a name for your characters. Why would it be so hard? Well, you want the name to be memorable, and you want it to be unique. It can’t be the same as a bunch of other characters in different stories–you can only have so many ‘Jacks’ climbing beanstalks–but if it’s too weird of a name, your readers may not be able to pronounce it.
I think first names are easier for me, because I have two free books on my Nook. The books are Girl Names by Last Letter, 2011-2012 and Boy Names by Last Letter, 2011-2012. Both are by the same author, Nancy Man, and they have a bunch of names in them. They’re by last letter, which is a little annoying, but I just read through the books once and highlighted any names that seemed interesting.
Another great idea is to search for baby naming websites. I once went on babynames.com, which has a bunch of names, but it was really annoying. After about twenty clicks, it starting popping up surveys with every click. Yes, every single click. So for that reason, I really recommend you find another site after that starts to happen, because it’s really, really annoying.
Many people make the mistake of not choosing an age-appropriate name. Well, what exactly is an age-appropriate name? It’s a name that would have been used during a certain time period. Let’s talk about the name ‘Ava.’ ‘Ava’ is actually a very popular name right now. However, if someone was writing a book with adult characters set in this time period and named one of the adult characters ‘Ava,’ that would not be considered “age-appropriate.” If you’re writing a book or short story set in the past, make sure to research what names were popular during that time. (We’re not saying you have to choose a name that was popular during that time, it’s only an option.)
Choosing Names by Meaning
This is another option many authors utilize. What “choosing a name by meaning” actually means is that you name your character after something similar to what they do or like. For example, if your character is a cook, you wouldn’t want to name your character ‘Baker’ or ‘Chef’–too literal, and they don’t even sound that great. You may want to name after a herb, though, like ‘Basil,’ ‘Cinnamon,’ or ‘Ginger.’
Fun Fact about P2P: Ginger doesn’t run a bakery. Or a restaurant. Or any kind of business that has to do with food. However, she does help run a blog.
Sci-Fi Names: Pronounceable, Please?
I actually got this idea when reading the fifth book of Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull. There’s a demon prison, and the name of it is Zzyzx–can you even pronounce that? I certainly can’t! And hey, I know that’s a demon prison and not a person or anything, but there are some pretty odd names for books out there. So if you’re writing sci-fi, just know, characters are best related to when their names are pronounceable! You could even combine two names, I guess, like Ash and Ginger: Anger or Gash. 😉
Names Already Known
I wouldn’t recommend naming your character after an already-famous character, like Hermione, or a famous person, like Oprah, unless their name somehow ties in to the story. For example, if a character’s parent was obsessed with the Harry Potter series, then it would make some sense if the character’s name was Hermione. But don’t just randomly name your character Hermione–everyone will know whose fame you’re trying to piggyback on.
Calling All Fun!
Have fun with naming your characters. Maybe they have embarrassing nicknames or funky middle names: I dunno. It’s your character, your choice, and your brainstorm.
All in All…
All in all, I hope you come check this out the next time you’re writing a novel and already looked at our pen name post to decide whether you want one or not. If you need name ideas, you can comment, and we’ll try to help you out as much as possible.