Episode 64: Name Your Characters

On October 12, Kasie and Rex talked about how they came up with names for their characters and some classic techniques. Here are the show notes:

Theme for the day

Naming Characters and Using Real People in Fake Stories


  • Character Names – A History
  • Where do names come from?
  • What are some risks to using real names in fake stories?
jasper alina kevin niklas write on chalkboard
Photo by Heiner on Pexels.com

Segment 1

Last week our guest Sheila Morris suggested we look into character names as a topic for a show. So here we go. That’s how easy it is to get what you want out of this show, folks. Send us your suggestions (comment below!) and we’ll build whole shows around them.

So thanks to Sheila for the suggestion. Let’s do this!

Why do names matter? According to this blog, it’s because:

  • Clarity: Helps the reader differentiate between the major players.
  • Character: Reveals personality and the type of character without needing to say more than a word.
  • Bankability: The right name can make your character iconic.

Segment 2

Like all things related to writing, there’s a blog for that. Check out this Writer’s Digest Advice which conveniently offers a list of The 7 Rules for Picking Names for Fictional Characters:

  1. Check root meanings
  2. Get your era right
  3. Speak them aloud
  4. Manage your crew — or use different initials for the main characters in an ensemble
  5. Use alliterative initials — a la Severus Snape and Bilbo Baggins
  6. Think it through — the more specific you are, the more likely someone real has that name
  7. Check them again — or google your character’s name

Some things to ask yourself before settling on a name:

Does the name match the character?

Does the name fit the story?

Then some pro tips:

Pay attention to the length of the name

Experiment with sound

Experiment with nicknames

And some links:

  1. An encyclopedia,
  2. The phone book,
  3. A baby name book,
  4. An online name translator,
  5. The SSA popular name database,
  6. OneLook,
  7. Rhymezone,
  8. Wikipedia,
  9. The Fantasy Name Generator,
  10. Instant Domain Search,
  11. Anagram Generator

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