Lesson One: A Name

Lesson One: A Name

A Lesson by

Finding a good name for that pretty girl or that hideous phantom-thingy.


-Lesson One: A Name


A name is the defining feature of a character and therefore must be considered carefully. You can't just go around your whole story with:


"(insert witty comment here)," said the black-haired dwarf with the scar over his eye.


You need to have a good name, something memorable that fits (unless you're a comedy-fiction writer, I don't think Prince Fuzzy is a good idea for a heroic dragonslayer). For a warrior, you may want to find a name that says 'robust' or 'deadly', and for a beautiful woman, you may well want a feminine name that reminds you of a flower or something almost as pretty as she is. Personally, if I know what kind of character I want, I'll go to my favorite name site, www.20000-names.com and look up names that mean 'wolf' or 'beauty'.


But if you don't know who your character is going to be, just skim 20,000 Names. They have all sorts of sections for dragon anmes, pet names, English names, and I think there's even a few magical name sections. You'll see when you get there. If those don't help, read. If you're still stuck, take a common name, and try adding and taking letters away, or fiddling with the sounds and changing letters out for others that make the same sound to make the name look cooler.  Even find certain names and you can trace them to the original form.




Turn Michael (English) into Mikhail (Russian)

Turn Tristan into Trysten, Tristen, Trystan, Tristiyn, etc.

Names that mean 'wolf' (or include it): Beowulf, Aethelwulf, Wulfric, Wolfe, Lupin, Remus, etc.

The name Connie comes from Constance, and means  'flower' Find names that mean the same thing.


Naming is not something to be taken lightly, so be careful and know you can change the name before you get too attached to the original.


-Taiylor Wallace

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Posted 2 Years Ago

Thank yo. it was very helpful lesson.

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Posted 6 Years Ago

Lesson 1---Completed. I picture them in my head, walk with them for a while, have them interact with each other... then I go to a "name your baby" book and pick out those I like until one name reaches out and grabs me. I can't help it if a reader has a personal issue with men called David. I just can't use the name David if I the author dislike David because of what a real life David did to me--my dislike would bleed into the character turning him from hero to foolish twit. Onto the next lesson---->

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Posted 6 Years Ago

very helpful lesson so does the comments

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Posted 8 Years Ago

I know of one award winning author who says that she ALWAYS names her characters only after the book is written - before that, she just uses place-holders like Hero and Hero's Boyfriend and Hero's Dog...

I agree that attaching a stereotype to a name is a bad idea. Nor do names need to have special meanings that are related to something about the character. It's more important to have the name be relevant to the character's culture, but that's another matter.

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Posted 8 Years Ago

Perhaps one could also mention that a character's name is best created last, after the development of the character.

People tend to attach stereotypes/expectations to a name, so putting it first often means that a writer will develop the character according to the name rather than developing the right name to fit a well-rounded character.

Perhaps one could also note that it is better to avoid naming two characters in a similar manner as readers can often get similar names mixed up.

Nice lesson.
Well done.
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Added on February 5, 2011
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