Monday, June 16, 2014

N is for Naming Characters #SpankA2Z

Welcome to day 14 of the Spanking A-Z Challenge. I'm officially past the halfway point...woohoo! :)

June 16th - N is for Naming Characters
I have a difficult time naming characters and honestly it's one of my least favorite parts of writing. I spend way too much time obsessing over characters' names, changing their names, and second guessing my choice long after a book has been published.
Sometimes an entire story, minus the characters' names, will come to me and I start writing before I can even think of what to call them. So for a few days (or weeks!), until I come up with something adequate, I might call them Mary and John in my work-in-progress. Unfortunately, names never pop into my head the way a story idea does.
I keep baby name books next to my reference books in my office, and that helps now and then. I also found a random name generator online, which I use on occasion. And last but not least, I have two baby naming apps on my phone that are pretty handy.
How do you go about naming characters? Do the names usually pop into your head?


  1. I often use the social security baby name site because you can check popularity by decade--helpful when naming older characters or coming up with a trendy name for young ones:

    I keep a list of names that I like, both first and last names.

    Sometime the name is symbolic to the story (and often I'm the only one who will realize that).

    On occasion, I have named my characters after someone famous.

    1. Oh I'd forgotten all about the social security list. I haven't looked at that one in a while but I need to keep it handy from now on!

  2. I spend time on names too. Not only people but places (if it's an imaginary world). Certain names resonate with me for certain reasons. Obviously they resonate with the readers too. Not many Seymours, Harvey's or Clydes appear as alpha males in romance novels. I recently re-wrote an ancient story of mine and I changed the name of my main character from John to Danny. Why? John sounded too serious and Danny sounded more youthful. It seemed to fit him better.
    I used to laugh at old spanko novels written in the 60's. The girls had names like Edna, Ruth and Melba. I could only visualize my mother's friends in foundation underwear.

    1. Good point about the alpha male names - that's one reason I always get stuck. I feel like I want to use the same male names over and over again.

  3. My character's names usually come to me easily enough but I have used the baby name websites to help.

  4. urgh, blogger ate my reply the first time... baby naming websites are my fav. I often write characters' to their names meaning. In Vala's Story, I actually used an old Writer's Digest naming book that's scary expensive to buy now. I often gravitate to names for characters before I even have a story idea. I'm not sure what I'm doing this nano though- as I have an idea for a story with two authors as main characters