8 Tips for Better Character Names


Naming characters….
This is what I do whenever I have to name a character. 

You’re probably the same way. But I’ve already talking about my reasons for obsessing about names.

Today I want to share a few handy tricks that will make this naming process easier…hopefully.


Be inspired by characters and people you love

There is nothing wrong with throwing a name that you love into your book! While I would recommend not using super-famous names of characters (there can only ever be one Aragorn, sorry), nothing can really keep you from doing it…just be prepared for some confusion from your readers.

And you can name characters after your friends and family, too! (Bonus points to those writers who use names from real life and then kill off that character...because how much fun is that?!)


Look at the meanings and origins of names

I’m a nerd, so I really like looking at the meanings and origins of names…but it can be helpful, too! You never know when you might come across other names with the same meaning or origin that you like even more. (Nameberry is great for this, because it will recommend similar names!)

It can also be helpful for when you want a character to be known for a certain trait. Look up that trait and see what names you can find that mean that thing.


Change the spelling

As long as the phonetics are still right, play with the spelling of some of your favorite names. My personal favorite is adding “y”s whenever possible—or replacing a different vowel with a y.


Put a spin on a normal name

I was reading a Star Wars book (Dark Force Rising, maybe?) and there was a guy whose name was Dayvid.  I rather fell in love with it—not just because of the extra y. It put a twist on a “boring” name that I thought fit really well in the genre.



Say it out loud

Maybe the name sounds different than it looks on the page and now you hate it. Better to find out now than to completely get attached to it and then it’s too late.



Ask for advice

Maybe you’re just unsure about a name. Ask for a second opinion. (I do this without freaking out about it all the time; it’s not scary!)


Keep a list of names

Google will probably think you’re pregnant if you have so many baby name websites on your search history, but whatever. Keep a list of names that you like…somewhere. (Again, Nameberry is cool because you can save them in different lists!)

Even if it’s one that you just came across somewhere and liked the sound of and you don’t have a character in mind for it yet, that’s good--jot it down.


Make sure you can write it easily

Does the name have a thousand accent marks? Not only will it be a pain in the butt to write—readers don’t like that, either. IT LOOKS COOL…but being able to say a name without your tongue getting tied is nice, too.

So…limit the number of accent marks. And, depending on the scope of your work in progress, limit the number of names with accent marks, too.




And there you have a few things that might help you out when you go to name some new characters!

Have fun, name them whatever you want, and keep writing! <3