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.

What’s your process for naming characters?


Jay Bendt, Un-agented Author
I just make them up. They come randomly. Sometimes I see names and like variations of them so much that I stick them somewhere in my brain for later use, even if there’s no actual character behind the name yet.

Mark Koopmans, Un-agented Author
As weird as it sounds, some of the characters I’ve created come from road signs… you know the green signs that advice Kirby/Staunton is 1 Mile. The only name I’ve created is Kram Snampook (can you guess why J)


Eileen Cook, Published Author
I’m addicted to those “name your baby” websites. You can do searches by meanings- so sometimes I’ll look for a name that matches with the sense of the character. Other times the name will just come to me and be a perfect fit.

Kelley Lynn, Published Author
Usually I just write and see what name comes to my head, especially for any secondary characters. For my main characters, these come to me long before I start writing the story


Lara Schiffbauer, Published Author
With naming, I usually just pick one that doesn’t have a similar sound or start with the same letter as another character. I have come up with my own place names and made up my own names for creatures. That was kind of exciting, because I looked at old Irish/Scottish and then used those words as the root for my own names. The most fun was coming up with the name Ruafeli as the species of a creature in Finding Meara, because it basically means “fire cat” which is what Frederick is.

Chloe Banks, Agented Author
I’ve never made-up a name exactly, but I’ve started naming one character in all my novels after British villages.We have such quirky place names. The villain of a children’t novel I wrote was called Hinton Blewitt and I’ve got a Martin Hussingtree and an Edwyn Ralph in my adult novels – all three are English villages. Mostly I find other characters name themselves, though once or twice I’ve hunted for a name that means something specific.


Valerie Cole, Agented Author
Because I write contemporary, I always try to balance “Is this an interesting name for this character?” with “Is this a normal name that sounds reasonable for this setting?” I try to avoid names that have been used a lot in other books I’ve read so sometimes picking a name can take a while. I Google things like “cute midwestern boy names” and “girl names that start with B” a lot. When I get really stuck, I just ask my friend Kelly who is really good at choosing unique and interesting names.


What’s your process for naming characters?

6 Responses

  1. Well, for Peter it was a given because I really wanted to use the title “St. Peter in Chains” (which is actually the name of a church in Rome). A lot of times I just “know” the character when I meet him or her, though I do sometimes have to tweak if I’ve had other characters with same or similar names; even if in other books, I don’t like to recycle too much. There’s a Nymbler site that allows you to find names within the same, I dunno, tone or whatever by entering the names you like and it suggests other related names.

  2. I’ll often use the Social Security baby names website. It’s great if you want to pick out an older generational name. But I don’t do much research into names, it’s whether I like it or not, and that’s it.

  3. I struggle with names. While some come to me (usually the MC), I tend to gravitate towards the same sounding names and similar letters and have to consciously steer myself in another direction. I have a sheet where I write down each name and I try to make all the main characters have different starting letters and sounds.

  4. Rachel Schieffelbein

    I love that Chloe uses village names! That’s so cool!
    Sometimes I search baby name sites, or ask for help from my sister who LOVES talking names. Otherwise I just pick the first name that pops into my head. A lot of the names I use are people I know. . .(Apparently I’m not that creative.) 😉

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