Naming Characters

For me, finding the perfect name for a character is an important part of understanding who they are. Personally, I like my main characters to have names that may not be current, but can hold their own in YA/NA, science fiction and fantasy novels. My main character in EVO Nation is Theyda Leason. However, she doesn’t go by the name Theyda (reasons why in the novel), but uses her nickname, Teddie. As soon as I happened upon the name Teddie, I knew that was her name. It was a gut instinct, Frankenstein- ‘She is alive’, moment.

  • Gut instinct: Always and foremost go with what feels right. A perfect name is only perfect because it feels that way to the author, and hopefully, the reader.
  • Google it: Run all possible name combinations through Google to make sure that there isn’t a famous person or politician with the same name.
  • Weird spellings: Avoid unusual spellings where possible. I cannot stand names that I may or may not be pronouncing correctly. It is jarring for me as a reader.
  • Age appropriate: For example, if you are writing a contemporary, young adult, romance novel, your characters might not all be called Ethel, Mildred, and Tarquin. If you are writing a Victorian regency novel the names Chardonnay and Ikea wouldn’t fit the era.
  • Meanings: This is not a necessity, but I like to know the meaning of a name. Get a name book or Google your name to find the meanings. Some names fit a personality perfectly, or some may have an unpleasant meaning. This doesn’t mean I don’t use the name, but I am sometimes inspired to add a character trait or two.
  • Not too samey samey: Say your chosen name aloud along with other character names. Anna and Hannah don’t work well together. And names that can be used as a nickname for another character’s name may be confusing to the reader, such as James and Jamie.
  • Listen and look: Keep your ears out and eyes peeled when out and about. Listen for names and take in the description of that person. It may inspire a character, or throw a unique name into your repertoire.
  • Preconceptions: Certain names have preconceptions attached to them. For example, the name Jezebel is a pretty name, but suggests a scheming, immoral woman, and has biblical references. By all means, use such a name and bring a new dimension to it, but bear in mind that people may stereotype your character.

I love stumbling across an interesting name, whether it be on a grave stone, in a local paper, or on a park bench. Here are ten of my recent name finds: (you may have heard of them before, but I hadn’t, and I had to jot them down).

  1. Meynell (F/M)
  2. Lovell (M)
  3. Brier (F)
  4. Melrose (F)
  5. Albion (M)
  6. Tayah (F)
  7. Merrily (F)
  8. Reve (F/M)
  9. East (M)
  10. Reina (F)

Content belongs to KJ.Chapman

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5 thoughts on “Naming Characters

  1. I love the name Reina, it has such a beautiful ring to it!

    But back to the main point. I pick my character names in much the same way. They need to sound right above all, but I also tend to chose names based on their meaning. For example, in Rise of the Sparrows Cale’s name means loyal and Arlo means strong/manly – I chose those because they fit their personalities perfectly, and by now the names are just right for the characters. However, I don’t know what Rachael’s name means – I just knew the character instantly when I heard the name. It had to be that one, with that spelling.

    It’s a great list you’ve put together (did I ever mention how much I love a good list?), thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, the great thing about names is that they’re everywhere, so if you keep your eyes and ears open, you can pick up some interesting names for your characters.

    I tend to use names that hopefully pass along a feeling of who this person is. The main protagonist in my novel, Kara, got her name from a piece of dialogue that jumped in my head one day. Someone says, “You took out three guys, all on your own? We should start calling you Supergirl,” and she responds, “Well, my name is Kara.” And that’s who she is basically, she’s Supergirl who doesn’t want to be Supergirl, so she’s Kara. Also, she pronounces it care-ah rather than car-ah, which speaks to her not caring about the way things are, only about the way she wants them to be.

    Another character I have is a nerdy guy named Roland. When I named him, I was thinking that his name had to sound nerdy, it had to have something to do with him being a sci-fi geek. So eventually I stumbled onto this thought that his parents named him after Roland Emmerich, the director of Independence Day. And that movie was in my head because Kara references the movie early on in the story. So I felt like that was a fitting name for him.

    By the way, thank you for the point about your frustration with names that you don’t know if you’re pronouncing correctly. I never really felt the need to have Kara say how to pronounce her name, but now I think I’ll add it into my first chapter. Maybe she’ll correct someone and say something like, “Come on, let’s not get into a Voldemort situation with me here.”

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    1. No wonder people think us writers are crazy, but I think it’s fabulous. Character’s become so real in our heads and I love how names add to that realism, just like naming a child.

      I remember telling friends that my female protagonist was to be called Teddie, and they weren’t sure, but now they’ve read the book, they love it.

      I think Roland is a great name for a nerdy character. I can picture him now, without a description! And I’m impressed with the links you’ve made with his name to other parts of your story- makes it even more special.

      Yes, I am a stickler for names that I’m not sure how to pronounce. However, I don’t like obvious dialogue explaining how it’s pronounced as it feels forced. I think your Voldermort reference would be great, and funny (I am a Pothead)!

      I’m already thinking about my next series, and it’s going to be a dystopian, SciFi, fantasy, and I’m going to need to do a lot of character and world building ie picking/ creating new names. I have to admit, I love it! I’m constantly listening out for names to adapt, or use. Writing is so much more than writing… if you know what I mean? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on and commented:

    One of my favourite aspects of writing is character creation and development. That includes thinking up names- even creating some. Here are some the factors I consider when naming my characters…

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