How to Pick the Perfect Name for Your Character


When I was twelve I read a book with angels and demons in it.  In the back of the book there was an appendix listing the meanings of the names of each of the characters. I resolved to employ this detail when I wrote my own stories in the future.

Like so many things from that age, now that I’m older they seem stupid in practice. I also thought I would iron my future husband’s clothes for him #purefantasy.  My husband irons his own clothes like a boss.

laundry
How does one choose the perfect name for a character?  One doesn’t. Why?  It’s not necessary and it’s not realistic.

name

I didn’t choose my name.  I’m betting that you probably didn’t either unless you had your name changed. Our parents choose our names and often they’re from family names, popular culture, or a random baby book.  Sometimes meanings are a consideration — a wish for the child.

It was far easier for me to choose a name by using BehindTheName.com and just picking one almost at random. For Threads of Fate, I wanted it to have an ancient Germanic feel to it, so I narrowed down the names to fit that category.  I read up on German surnames as well, but BehindTheName.com also has surnames by ethnicity.

Besides ethnicity, I sometimes use popularity by decade and choose the person’s age. Madison is a newer name and wouldn’t be as appropriate for a 50 year old woman  as Cynthia would be.

I’ve picked most of my names pretty randomly from the list.  The names don’t have to be perfect.  After writing a bit if you don’t like a name, you can always change it.

Here’s a good test — listen to the duck:

Test

 

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2 thoughts on “How to Pick the Perfect Name for Your Character

  1. Great Post! Names are one of my biggest problems when it comes to writing and a lot of my first drafts used to have “UNNAMED says to UNKNOWN” with a hope I’ll go back and fill in some blanks! Nowadays though I tend to pick a name out of thin air, or from a website like yourself; I roll with it and see if it sticks. I think the problem is names feel so Final; and when we compare our work to others, their names always look so perfect. Could we imagine Frodo having any other name? Luke Skywalker? There’s a lot to live up to! haha.

    Like

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