Naming Characters

Hello, my name is...
By Sophia Mallonée-

The names of your characters are just as important as the characters themselves. What’s in a name? Names can give the reader an idea of the background of your character, the location (where in the world) they are from and a sense of the character’s overall identity. A memorable character, usually has a memorable name. So how do you come up with that perfect name?

1. Research
There are lots of websites online that list different types of names. You can search for names based on ethnicities, countries or most popular by year. Want to find a themed name? No problem! You can even search for names from different time periods, like Ancient Greek names or Viking names. Other great places to look for interesting names are phone books and the credits at the ends of movies too.

2. Add Personality
Names are a great way to establish personality for a character. Think of the seven dwarves from Snow White, each dwarf is named for his personality. Then there’s Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon. He is always trying to impress his dad. But he can never do the right thing. Do you think the name Hiccup suits him?
You can also do the opposite. Do you think it would be funny if you had a grumpy character and you named him Happy McGee? Have fun with it!

3. Play With Language While Keeping Consistent
Naming can be creative too, especially when you’re story takes place in a made up world. But you want to remember your character names should stay true to where the characters are from – even if the worlds are made up.
If you have a group of characters that are all supposed to be from one time period, planet or area, then they should have names with a similar theme to them – something that fits the culture, language or time of that place. A great way to better understand this, is to search the internet for names by regions of the world or by language.
That doesn’t mean that all of your characters have to be named the exact same thing. It’s wonderful to have people who are different too. Maybe the world that you’re creating has a cast of characters from a whole bunch of different backgrounds? That’s terrific! But you want to keep in mind that the names you give your characters, should generally hold true to the background that they are individually from – even if it’s different for everyone.

Writing Prompt 1: Think of an interesting character with a strong personality trait and write a few sentences to describe them. What do they look like? What is interesting about their personality? Now try naming your character in a way that expresses their personality. Next, try naming them something that would be the opposite of their personality. Did your character change at all with the different names?

Writing Prompt 2: Think of a unique setting. You can pick anywhere in the world, any time period in history or even make up a completely new place. Now think of at least three characters that are from that place. What would you name these three characters? What do their names say about them?


Sophia MalloneeSophia Mallonée (pronounced mal-o-nay) is a former artist’s agent, mother to a daughter (and two crazy dogs), wife to a photographer, music lover, obsessive reader and lifelong writer. She grew up playing in the freshwater springs and forests of northern Florida, where she now resides once more after traveling and living throughout the country. Learn more about Sophia HERE and at her webpage, www.sophiamallonee.com.