From the Mouth of a Toddler to the Pages of a Book… a Guide to Naming Characters

Writing a book is no easy thing, but when it comes to naming characters, that is next-level creativity, or at least it was for me. One of the hardest things I came across while writing The Defender was coming up with alien names. Thank goodness for my three-year-old daughter.

When it comes to being creative, I’m as good as anyone, but for some reason, when I was faced with a budding new character, naming it was the hardest thing you could have asked me to do. So, I turned to Hailey.

It would be such a simple thing, “Hailey, I need a new name,” and without pause, she would reply with the perfect name. A few of her off-the-cuff answers include Rickert, Veela, and Ono. These names make appearances throughout the Gatlin series, and they are all thanks to my daughter.

Sure, I’m lucky to have a girl like her in my life, but what can you do if you are stumped when it comes to naming your aliens, or even the human characters of your book? Well, my friends, Google is always your friend. I found this neat website that gives you 19 different suggested resources for naming your characters: Character Names: 19 Methods & Tips for Naming Characters Step-by-Step (self-publishingschool.com)

In case you don’t feel like clicking on the list, here are my top two;

  • https://www.name-generator.org.uk/character/This name generator is wonderful if you are looking for human names. It allows you to pick the character’s nationality, disposition, sex, and so much more. Then it gives you 10 first and last name suggestions.
  • https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/This one is much better for fantasy names. It’s a cool site that allows you to search for names based on similar genres from popular films (like Harry Potter), video games (think Zelda), or books (like Eragon). It’s less customizable but much more sci-fi related.

Another tip I have for you is that when naming your characters, try to picture them as real beings that are walking around and living their lives. All of my characters have distinct personalities. I knew who they were going to be, even before they were written on paper. When I named a lot of my characters, or more accurately, asked my daughter to name them, I already had an idea of who they were in my head. They were ready to be written and I just needed a name to kickstart it. That was the case for all the characters except for the case of my main character, Alexia Harmon.

In the case of Alexia Harmon, her name was picked first, and then her character was built around her name, to some extent anyway. I’ll get more into that in another blog (so stay tuned)!

Back to the vast majority of my characters. Characters like Rickert and Veela start as predominantly single-natured, making them easy to write. What I mean is, they were simple. They didn’t have a lot of character flaws or advanced personality traits, which left me a lot of room for the next important thing, character development.

Character development is crucial for any good book. For example, Rickert starts as a jovial character who is optimistically happy, but as time goes on, we see into his troubled mind, his sordid past, and his failed love life. There is so much to him, and it all stems from a simple name.

In summary, naming your characters can be either really easy or really hard. If you have a chatty preschooler in your life, I highly recommend bringing them into your creative circle. If not, don’t be afraid to use google. However you choose your name, remember to think of who you are naming. They are so much more than words. They are thinking, breathing, moving, thriving characters. If you can describe them in the same level of detail as you would your best friend, then it will be that much easier to find the right name. This is a scenario of ‘when you know, you know.’

Good luck to all you amazing writers! May you continue to write epic stories that make your soul happy!

Drop a comment if you like what you read!

1 thought on “From the Mouth of a Toddler to the Pages of a Book… a Guide to Naming Characters”

  1. I’ve often wondered about this part of the writing process. I imagined that character names would be very personal to every author but I didn’t really expect that a toddler could be the mastermind! Love it!

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