by Gloria G. Adams
Take time to find great names for your characters! Check out these tips and name-searching ideas.
1. Does the name match your character? Velvet or Fawn bring to mind a soft, gentle character, while Butch or Tank sound rough and strong.
Or try the opposite: Name your antagonist, a female gang leader who
is a nasty bully, something like Angel Sweet. You can also look for meanings assigned to names; Vera means “true,” Amy means “beloved,” etc. But for a broader, more interesting take, try looking up names in the Urban Dictionary. For example, Amy “is a beautiful girl willing to do anything for her friends and family. She is brave, loyal and super smart. She's the type of girl who will grow up to be some sort of heroine.”
2. Make sure character names match the time frame. One way is to use baby name charts for your era. So, if your MC is 16 and your book takes place in 2020, look for baby names from 2004. For historical names, try looking on Ancestry.com or searching history books. One good source is Teresa Norman’s book, Names Through the Ages.
3. If your characters come from a different country, research names from that country. Make sure they are accurate and authentic.
4. Read the credits at the end of movies or TV shows. I used to get frustrated with my husband when he wanted to stay in the movie theater til the very end of all the credits. He had no reason to give me; maybe he just wanted to savor the last few minutes of being at the movies. But when I started writing, I found a reason to want to stay, too. A lot of great name ideas can spring from those long lists of people who work as film editors, best boys, make-up artists, etc.
5. Don’t use names that are too similar to each other or have the same number of syllables. You want your characters to be distinct; give their names the same attention.
6. Pick a geographic spot with an unusual name and have your character tell everyone he/she was born there. Set your story in that country or town. Remember Picabo Street? She was named after a town called “Picabo.” Jump onto Google Maps and find a treasure trove of cities, states, and countries that would make not only great character names, but also great settings for your stories.
Or let someone else work for you! Check out Reedsy’s Name Generator: https://blog.reedsy.com/character-name-generator/