I promised a friend of mine that I’d let them know how I come up with the unique names for all my characters.
Originally I debated doing this, I didn’t want to give away a resource that someone else could use. And as soon as I said out loud why I didn’t want to do it, the stupidity of not sharing it was only exacerbated by the selfishness.
So here are my primary means of finding names that don’t involve going to a website for baby names. Having said that, those are actually helpful for everyday believable names for real people. They’re especially good when they can tell you what was the most popular name during certain time periods, at least for the last few decades.
Any Google search will ultimate help you find something useful, or even vaguely inspiring for what you want. Its important to remember that you can use these as inspiration and change them to suit you, even if its just by a few letters.
I have one I use for random ideas for inspiration, or when I just want to plow on with what I need to do, and I can come back and edit it later. Another to help with place and town name generators, and lastly a person name generator.
Randomness! – Springhole
I love the random page generator on this one, and it actually helped me come up with some of the first ideas for the initial book I worked on for the Last Prophecy, a book that has yet to be finished.
Springhole has a great assortment of silly, but it has serious undertones, and the creator has a lot of really great information about writing, especially if you are starting out, or trying a different genre.
The one feature I love the most about it is random page generator. It is one of my favourite places to go to before I start working on a novel. With a notepad and pen, I get it to take me to about ten random pages, and on each page I write down whatever the random generator gives me. I then think about my intended story, and refer to the page for inspiration when I get stuck, or set myself the challenge of including those bits to push me along. Sometimes its completely useless, I found myself on a cyber name generator page, and I’m writing a Victorian era steam flavoured fantasy. Interestingly enough a variant of the name ended up in one of my books anyhow.
General Name Generator – Fantasy Name Generators
This one is great for getting place names. Towns, oceans, mountain ranges, rivers, the works.
One of the other parts I like about it is the huge variety of theme. It takes all pop culture in fantasy and incorporates it into their potential word searches. I also like the fact you can use it for names too.
There is one downside I have noticed with it though, and that’s if you want a specific name type, it can end up being a bit restrictive. For example, I was looking up a random Russian name, and it kept ending them all the male names in -ich, and all the female names in vna.
THE Name Generator – Behind the Name
This is by far my favourite, and if I don’t know the name of my characters this is my first stop. It is very simple, but it does allow you to pick places and types, and given that I’ve based my world on an almost alternate earth, its very convenient.
The names also show what they mean, and that’s very important to me and my characters because it is ultimately who they are and what defines them. The meanings behind their names are key characteristics that eventually shine through.
The other thing is, you should instinctively *know* your character names, where the story is going, and ultimately what the goal should be for the characters. But sometimes you need a push, or name, without worrying about it. I’ve had another character introduced to a story because it was felt as though it was needed by the editor. The new character was allocated an odd name and actually became integral to the plot. His name was Osewyn, a variant of Oswin, that meant “friend” in Old English. And he ended up becoming one of Andy’s greatest allies, after they started out on less than friendly terms.
Ultimate the name should resonate within you, for all your characters. The less they mean to you the less you want to write about them, the less people will want to read them.
Hope you get as much out of these sites as I did!