The Big Reveal

Welcome to the Big Reveal

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will have a new question for them.


How do you find your character names?

Jenny Morris, Agented Author
For the MC I usually start with what the character is supposed to stand for. Then I Google names that mean that. Other names are just ones that I discovered I really liked and wanted to use. I haven’t created my own name yet.

Lynne Schmidt, Un-Agented Author
I HATE NAMING CHARACTERS! Half the time I’ll text my friends or call out on twitter, ‘I need a male name! I need a female name!’ It’s rare I actually name my own characters because I’m so bad at it. Actually my first two novels don’t have MC names at all, I wrote around them. 🙂

Theresa Paulo, Agented Author
I have a list of names in Excel. Every time I need a name I go to it and scroll, close my eyes and then stop and wherever my finger points is the name. But if it doesn’t click then I keep doing it until one finally does. Because you know if a name will work or not. When I was writing my ms that took place in the 1920’s I researched popular names of the time my characters would have been born and chose from that list. Google is my best friend. 🙂

Mindi Scott, Published Author
The names of the main characters come to me from I don’t know where. I’m very strict about making sure that the names in each of my books don’t start with the same first letters and that they are a variety of lengths, etc. I know that real life that names don’t work like that, but I want to make it easy for readers to keep track of who is who.

Steph Campbell, Published Author
I start with the list of names that I loved for my children that my husband veto’d and if nothing feels right from there, I peruse baby naming sites.

Christa Desir, Pre-Published Author
I haven’t created any names, and honestly, I usually use names of people I know. It’s kind of fun because then my teen betas are all, “Hey, you used my name!” and they LOVE it. 🙂

Dahlia Adler, Agented Author
For my current ms, because it’s a redux, I used names that were similar to the original but fit better in a contemporary YA context. Usually, though, I just choose first names I think fit the character that haven’t been used in other mss of mine. I don’t really create names – I think that’s more of a fantasy thing than a contemporary thing – but for another ms of mine I did give the MC a name I’d never heard used for a girl before, because I wanted her to have something unusual and I had a specific nickname in mind. It turned out to have the perfect meaning for her too, but I have to admit that was just a happy coincidence.
 Where do you get your character’s names from?


6 Responses

  1. I just pick names that seem to fit the character. Usually I’ll go to the Social Security list of baby names. You can search the popularity of any name or names by the year. So if you need an older name, it’s easy to find.

    Very rarely do I search out names that have a specific meaning, but every once in a while I will.

  2. Unlike Lynne, I LOVE naming characters! Often I find they name themselves – a name pops into my head and even if I don’t like it, I don’t feel like I have much choice about using it. But sometimes I’ll look up names that have the meanings appropriate to the character, like Jenny. I find place names much harder. But the NaNoWriMo forums have an “adoption” forum where people leave suggested names for everything (from characters to streets) and take ones that others have left. That’s been useful!

  3. is my best friend when it comes to naming characters, but I still often find myself using the same names again and again in different stories. If I ever get them published, I’ll have to go back and find a wider variety!

  4. I’m very boring – I look up baby name websites. The most trouble I’ve gone to was to create the place names and the name for the Firecat in my story. While it was fun, it took some time because I had to mash up different parts of words to get meanings that still sounded cool. I hope it worked!

  5. I know this might be overkill, but I often think about my characters’ parents personalities and what they would name their children. I love choosing names, though. It’s nice picking a name and not having to consult my husband, like I had to when naming our children! 😀

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