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?