Coming up with names for your characters

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One of the hardest parts of creating characters, in my experience, is naming them, and judging by the popularity of ”Name my” thread on the NaNoWriMo forums (Thread can be found here, for the record), I’m far from the only one. I do have some ideas that have worked for me, however, and I’ll share those to try to help you get a leg up on actually finding a name for your characters.

For non-meaningful names

Despite being about names that don’t hold any special meaning in themselves, I still find it easiest to go with association. For example I always think of someone named Nikki as being very extraverted and somewhat nice, whereas a name like Brett makes me think of a jock (no offense to the Bretts out there).

Of course, you can always go against your own expectations as well. For example, In my novel, I have a character named Anna. Now, normally I would think of someone named Anna as quiet and timid. However, this girl is hyper. One character describes her as a 13-year-old with ADHD trapped in a 19 year old’s body, and is largely correct. whatever you do, though, just make sure it makes sense to you.

Meaningful names

Now, here you should do some digging. Figure out what you want the name to mean, and find names that mean that. Try looking up websites that give you the meanings behind names, like

Of course, if you can’t find a name that means what you want your character’s name to mean, then you should either make one up, or fall back on association. Another alternative is to fall back on names that the things that bear the names have a certain symbolism, such as a very dark woman, who kills people for bearing slaves being called Raven, which is associated with darkness and death (I intend to use that one, by the way). I guess what ultimately matters is that you take your time and find names that fits with your intended symbolism, if you’re after meaningful names.

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