Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Name Your MC

How do you name your main character? Or for that matter, any of your characters? Do you look through baby books? Google ancient Latin names? Or does it appear to you in a vision inspired by your awesome, writery powers?

I wish I could say it was a vision. I made a list long ago of names I liked. It may have actually started as baby names but it has evolved. Our characters are our babies in a way, are they not? I first scan this list as a reference and use either one of these names or a variation. For minor characters, depending on their background and nationality, I google it. Thank you, Google.

The name needs to fit the character and to be realistic our characters need flaws. Their names do not always have to be flowing, beautiful extensions of some perfect supreme being. They can be the name of the girl next door, or the cashier at the local market, or the drunken old lady that grooms your dogs. Don't judge me. She has great prices.

What mysterious well of information does your character names come from?


  1. I went with pretty normal names because I was going for your "average Joe" sort of names for the most part. My MC I wanted him to be young, cool, and a handsome looking kid. So I came up with "Blake". Not too flashy but has depth and has a young feel that could be smart too. Then I looked for a last name. It had to be very average. Like your next door neighbor, but it had to say much more about him than it seemed so I gave him "White". Crispt, clean, average, and boy next door sort of a feeling. Other characters have uptight names like Rebecca Thornberry. She's a gothic girl that pretty much hates everybody. (Thus the "Thorn" berry) So I play off the character traits for the name if that helps at all?

  2. It depends on the characters and whether or not I come up with a name on my own. I need a French last name for Pierre in "Conjure A Man", so I googled :-) Delaney I came up with pretty much on my own, but I did get online and researched D names...don't know why I wanted "D" but I did.

    Monroe was just out of the blue...and Sasha I liked because it sounded a little exotic and feminine. But I don't remember looking those names up.

  3. I wish I had a well of names. I get inspired by people I meet in real life who make a strong impression on me. I keep their names if it's unusual enough.

  4. I think about the chaacter's parents and why tey chose that articular name - the time period, their ethnic background, their age etc.

  5. My protagonist was named after two people. His first name, Gardner, was the name of one of my husband's college roomates. His second name, West, was after an old boyfriend's name.

    I just liked their names. Rather dashing, I thought.

  6. All of those are smart ideas! Its really a mix of names we have heard before, our character personalities, and the time period of the book. I think its very interesting how the process works for everyone.

  7. I can't really write characters properly until they've told me their names. Fortunately, the main characters usually tell me pretty quickly (not in a vision, but it just sort of comes to me). For secondary characters, I've been known to use the following resources:


    Can you tell I kind of have a thing about character names? Names and identity is a theme running through my first novel.

    (Found you through The Rejectionist, love your form rejection!)

  8. Thanks CK! Welcome! I really liked your's over there as well(isn't that blog hilarious?). Thanks for all the websites on the names, I have got to check those out.

  9. My latest MC is called Breight. (pronounced Breight.) It's supposed to be a name with an irregular spelling because he's from a "minority" and since it's a religious/spiritual book, I chose Breight because of the association with Light. All the cities in my latest novel are named for people I met in India.

    The book before that, all the names were "ghett0-fab" or Spanish, depending on whether the character was black or hihspanic. I know that is horribly stereotypical, but the thing about stereotypes is that they often exist because they're true!


It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.