Names- Hello, My Name Is _________

Names- Hello, My Name Is _________

A Lesson by TopHatGirl

Naming your character.


        NOTE: This is the updated version of this lesson. The first version was written three years ago, when I was around 12 or 13. That was not a very good lesson. I am sixteen now. This is only  slightly better.

Names. They're important.

But are they?

When I first wrote this lesson, I thought that the first thing you should do after jotting down basic details was naming your character. That is something you should do before actually writing, especially if you're going in a 3rd person POV direction.

But please, for the love of all that is holy, do not build a character around a name. There are a lot of things to think about when you name a character. Their nationality, their parents, and their background is one. No one's personality is known when they are first born. That is impossible. But as an author, you can do some pretty creative things with a character.

As an example, I'll talk about one of my characters for a novel I haven't written yet. His name is Victor, which works perfectly since he is Hispanic, and his entire arch is about his triumph. AKA, his 'victory'. (cue groaning). I like his name because I like puns.

What isn't important is the name. What is important is how the world around your characters reacts to the name. Victor hates his name because for the first portions of the novel he believes that it's a constant reminder on how he'll never truly succeed at anything due to his crippling social anxiety. My other character, Adam, hates his middle name 'Joan' because he's constantly teased about it.

Characters don't have to have traditional names. Your elvish character might have a mystical name. Another character might have a title for a name.

One of the most brilliant names I have ever read was in Jerry Spinelli's Milkweed, where the main character assumed his name was Stopthief, because that was what the shopkeeper yelled after him when he stole something and ran. This is clever and also reflects on his character; Stopthief was very young and didn't remember much.

Getting ideas for names is simple. Open up a newspaper or baby book. Flip through and point at something random. Keep the setting (time) and nationality in mind. If your character's name is unusual for any reason, comment on it. Is your character named Harmony Windbreeze in a world of Joes and Mary's? Tell us why.

Names are our identity, but don't define us! Happy writing!

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Posted 7 Years Ago

sorry, but "your lucky"!? It should be "you're" but otherwise yay:D

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Posted 8 Years Ago

The only Ashley I know isn't a preppy girly girl. She has claws and fangs and green eyes, and she loves to bite her sisters. Of course, the fact that she's a kitten may account for most of that. :)

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Posted 8 Years Ago

People aren't named for personality traits or physical features, they are named long before they start exhibiting any of this.

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Posted 8 Years Ago

Sometimes, the irony of the sarcastic, bitter character being named Melody is great, though; and parents can't see into the future to properly name their children for their personalities, either.

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Posted 8 Years Ago

thanks for the info deathbygarlic... that is helpful information

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Posted 8 Years Ago

If you Google search for "U.S. Census names" or something similar, you'll be directed to a link to a website (mongabay) that has a complete listing of fe/male first and last names as of the 2000 U.S. Census. The lists are in order of frequency, so you can find both common and uncommon names.
For example if you want a very typical waitress at a cafe, you can find a very typical name for her, but for the villain you can search for a lesser-known name.

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Hi, I'm TopHatGirl! If you're here about my character lessons or to get some advice, email me instead of messaging at This is because I don't go on this site as much anym..