The Name Game

There can be many things that make a character: a crafted personality, descriptions, with faults and all. What completes them or makes them, depending on the how one would create his or her character, is the name. It can give the writer a chance to be clever with a character’s name. A meaning can give a glimpse into a personality trait or give clues into what they are or will become.

Screen Shot from HP Lexicon
Screen Shot from HP Lexicon

Baby name sites can be another resource if you don’t already use them.

Stumble along google for new name sites if you don’t already. Those sites may be a go to for you, so feel free to leave them below for others to check out.

One of the reasons I decided to write this post is because of how much fun it can be and how it can be somewhat daunting to find the right character name.

I’m sure there are other writers who spend some time deciding, going back and forth on which will be the character’s name. The journey in finding the right name depends on what kind type of material you’re writing. In fantasy or otherworld pieces, the name can play a part in the story and create a different culture or environment for your character.

What I mean by that is that it can give a character a little more background. Even with nicknames; it raises the question on why the character doesn’t go by their full name.

As an example, Ace, one of my main characters from Torque, goes by that name by other character though I made his first name [Alexander]. Originally, his name was just Ace Thurston. I decided to change it and use it as a plot point for later. It also fit better with his character traits.

Origin: Biblical, German, Ancient Greek, Greek Mythology, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, Slovak, Dutch, Norwegian // from Behind the Name
Origin: Biblical, German, Ancient Greek, Greek Mythology, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, Slovak, Dutch, Norwegian // from Behind the Name

When searching for names, I normally go to Behind the Name. The site has a wide variety of names with meanings attached to them, which will make it easier to decide if decide to choose a name that meets your fancy. The names can be separated by gender and/or ethnicity.

If the name doesn’t fit the character, than create a list of names you necessarily can’t part from. There will be plenty of chances to create a character that will fit the name. (There may a time when you review the list and you get inspired by a name.)  Just be sure to keep track and sure you are not using the same name for different stories — unless it’s intentional.

Surnames, like first names, has to fit the character. There are times when you may like a name, but it doesn’t fit the character or it doesn’t fit well with the first name. Or you intentionally not give the character a last name, which is something I am doing with Spirits.

With surnames, I believe you can have a little more fun other languages. Depending on the ethnicity or nationality, you can pull names from simple meanings of dictionaries. (Sometimes you need to turn to something that’s a little unconventional to get what you want.) While writing a fanfiction (not Whispers), I turned to a Japanese to English – English to Japanese dictionary. At the time I felt some of the names were either too common and I wanted something different.

To make things a little easier when searching for names on Behind the Name, is the ‘Tools’ tab. It will give you the option of searching for what you need in themes or anagrams. Say a you want a “flowery” meaning for a character’s name. Then you’re in luck. It will bring up “flowery” meanings from every country that’s on the site and if you want male, female or unisex names.

Even name generators can be a useful too.  If you use the Scrivener writing app, there is name generator that can be used as well.

Be sure to explore the “Links” page on Behind the Name which will give you more options in name searches.

Until next time,


P.S. Don’t forget to follow my blog and YouTube channel for writing updates.

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