The Naming Game


I’ve had this post in my draft folder for a couple of days, and yesterday morning, I sat, with my cup of tea (every morning I read other peoples blog posts while I drink my first tea of the day lol) and discovered that a fellow blogger was talking about exactly the same thing…. spooky!

Check out journeyofjordannaeast where she talks about the struggles of naming characters 🙂

Anyway, as most of my regular readers will know, I do a prompt a day, a short story or the start of one. So everyday I’m trying to come up with names for characters. Every couple of weeks I sit and dedicate a whole page in my notebook to ‘Name Ideas’ so I’m always on the look out for methods, tips and resources 🙂

So here are some ways/places I get my character names from:

1. The credits on a film I’ve just watched. (I’ve been known to play the end credits frame by frame before now lol).

2. Books on quotations. I’m currently using a battered old copy of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations that I picked up in a charity shop for a quid 🙂

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3. Wikipedia which is a great source. Say I needed the name for a male character of a certain age who comes from Brazil. Search for the Brazilian football team and bobs your uncle! (English version of hey presto lol) You have a list of all the players 🙂

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4. One of my absolute favourites…..any excuse obviously lol…..FaceBook! If you’re the member of any groups, check out the members list, you can usually see how old people are from their photo’s. Or if you have a friend (or family member) who has millions of friends (like my daughter who I think has about 800), check out their friends list.

5. Here in the UK a lot of our local papers have a Births, Deaths & Marriages section. Can be quite useful as you will know exact ages (as too can be the reporters names in the same paper).

6. Stuck for a surname? Google Maps 🙂 Pick a town, city, place…..road/street names are excellent for surnames. Or even a paper map (they do still exist you know lol)

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My favourites from this one: Green – Ridley – Addington – Hartley – Cliffe – Halling and of course Rochester (hasn’t that one already been used? Lol)

7. And finally, name generators online. I don’t often need to use these sites, but if I do, my favourite is Seventh Sanctum which has loads of links to creativity generators.

Obviously you can use baby name books, but I find the modern ones hard because a name that is listed may have only been in existence for a few years. No good if trying to name a 45 year old.

One final thing about using real peoples names>;;>;;>;;>;;>;;>;; When I use FaceBook for name ideas I’m very careful to mix up surnames with first names. I don’t ever use their first name and surname combined. That could get you in a lot of hot water. But, if you think about it, whatever name you choose there is bound to be someone out there who has that exact combination of first and second name.

One last tip…..make sure all your characters names all start with different letters and don’t sound the same. Your reader will be way confused. I recently read a story where a dog was called Taylor and the baby was Tyler. I had to re-read a whole section as I thought it was still talking about the dog, and wondered what it was doing in a cot 😉

So how do you come up with your characters names? I would love to hear yor ideas/tips and resources.

Yesterday’s prompt was write about fruit flesh. Yuk, that just sounds wrong! lol. I know it is flesh, but….. Lol. Anyway, I came up with a sweet little story about a girl on a bench eating a pear. An old man sits down and chats and it turns out he’s a retired market stall holder (his son has taken over the business) who use to sell fruit and vege. That’s as far as I got, but I’m thinking there’s a romance there, especially as the son is a hunky barrow boy *sniggers*
Today’s prompt is this is how lonesome feels which is already depressing me and I haven’t even started writing yet lol

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30 thoughts on “The Naming Game

  1. That is a great suggestion to look at the credits of a movie you’ve watched or that’s been on television. If I can just have time for television for more than five minutes, but that’s a great idea. I look at baby names online sometimes, but when I came up with names for characters in my book I looked at old obits. My favorite was Ranzy. I gave it to the father of my main character, Owen. Thanks for the ideas!

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  2. I usually google it. That’s my favorite way if I’m stuck for a name. The meanings of the name is huge for me so I like to look up strong names for men and beautiful lyrical names for women. Character is built from names so I want the meanings to reflect that. Surnames I tend to make up. Nice post. 🙂

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  3. I never thought of cruising around wikipedia! That’s a great idea! 🙂

    I’m a huge fan of the baby name book. Sometimes I’ll page through it with a starting letter in mind, while others I’ll throw it across the room and see where it opens (I buy used editions so the spine is broken and the book always falls open) . It’s a handy little trick I picked up from Wreck This Journal. Fate has a hand in deciding some of my character’s names. 🙂

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  4. I think my problem is finding a name that I don’t already associate with someone else. It was a bit of a search naming my son! These are good ideas for places to look which I’m sure will be useful in the future.

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  5. I’ve looked at ancestry.com if I have to go any further back than the last fifty years. You can usually find the “old world” spelling of first names before they became Americanized (for those emigrating to the States through Ellis Island, N.J. or Galveston on the Gulf Coast). Great Post Vikki. Going to look up a few of these sites.

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  6. I use maps as well for surnames. I used to work in Human Resources and happen to have a good memory, so mix up names of real people from the employee roster. My favourite baby name website is: http://www.babynames.com/Names/search.php. You can search by intial, meaning, or origin, even number of syllables. But not decade. For that, I use @karcherry site. I like your story about the girl and the barrow boy–sounds cute.

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  7. There is no higher form of flattery in the blogosphere than someone mentioning your blog in their blog, and for that I offer my sincerest thanks! I also would like to give you a great big hug for all the cool name-finding ideas! I’m beside myself with possibilities! (Unfortunately, I’ve already named my main character’s mom –to be announced in today’s blog– but I do have at least one other minor character to assign a name. Thank you so much and happy blogging!

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