Choosing a character name isn’t as easy as you think. There are so many things to consider. At this year’s conference I attended a workshop by Kelly Hunter. She raised some great points about choosing your characters’ names, saying you need to consider:
- character traits
- socio-economic status
- honorifics that convey status
Of course, you also can’t choose characters who have names starting with the same letter. It gets confusing for the reader when you do this. Don’t believe me? Read the excellent (middle grade?) trilogy “The Erth Dragons” by Chris D’Lacey. The dragons’ names all start with the same letter. I had to read the start 3 times to get my head around the dragons (frustratingly my Barbarian who owned the book didn’t seem to have that problem).
With all these things to consider, it can be tough to find exactly the right name sometimes. Luckily for writers, there are resources out there to help with that. Recently I’ve been recommended two, and after playing with them both I’m happy to recommend them.
The first is at Reedsy’s Character Name Generator. From the web page:
1,000,000+ good character names to inspire you. Kickstart your story with this random character name generator. Sort using filters such as language, gender, and fantasy — and even discover the meanings of your favorites. Each name is computer-generated and we encourage you to do further research on naming traditions and meanings for your exact region.
The second is Behind the Name. This site provides the etymology and history of first names and lets you search mostly by country of origin, but also has a few other categories, such as Biblical and mythological.