Wednesday, June 3, 2015

IWSG: Naming Characters, Places, Pets & Titles


When I'm working on a story, I sometimes have trouble naming the main characters.  It has to be just the "right" name.  Something unusual, but not too unusual.  Something that suits the characterization, the time period, and the place. 

Once I name the main characters, I relax and start to write.

Wait a minute! Hold on!

All of a sudden the character's friends, family, teachers and/or employers pop up in the story.  What the heck are their names??

There are always a lot more supporting cast members than I realize.

Here are some sites that help me:


Character Names

Real Names and Meanings (International names):
Behind the Name (first names): http://www.behindthename.com/
Behind the Name (surnames): http://surnames.behindthename.com/

Popular Baby Names by Year:

Behind the Name: http://www.behindthename.com/top/
Social Security Admin: http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/index.html

Rank of Names Across the Decades :

(What YOUR NAME would be if you were born in a different decade)
Time Magazine/US Culture: http://time.com/3856405/baby-name-popularity/
(I had a lot of fun with this one!)

Fantasy Name Generators:

http://rinkworks.com/namegen/
http://fantasy.namegeneratorfun.com/
http://www.namegeneratorfun.com/

Town Names

Name Generator (fantasy): http://www.namegenerator.biz/place-name-generator.php
Name Generator (real or fantasy): http://www.namegenerator2.com/town-name-generator.php
Writers Den: http://www.writers-den.pantomimepony.co.uk/writers-locations.php
RPG Tools: http://www.rpgtools.us/town.aspx

Pet Names

Vet Street (Dogs & Cats): http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/top-10-trendiest-cat-and-dog-names
Pet Names (any species): http://www.petnames.net/popular-pet-names.html
Cherily: http://cherily.com/

Title for Book or Story

Book Title Generator: 
http://www.kitt.net/php/title.php
http://www.mcoorlim.com/random.html
Author Fun (fiction, SF, Fantasy): http://selfpubauthors.com/2013/08/09/author-fun-random-title-generators/


Will Your Title Be a Bestseller?

Lulu Title scorer: http://www.lulu.com/titlescorer/index.php




This is a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It exists so the community of blogging writers can share and support each other, blog-hopping to cheerlead and commiserate. To find out more, visit: Insecure Writer's Support Group. Plus, check out the IWSG Website for lots of helpful info and links.

53 comments:

Lynda R Young said...

Oh, I'm going to have to try out Rank of Names Across the Decades. I can spend hours on names. In fact, just this morning I wasted pretty much the whole morning looking for the 'right' name. Sigh.

M.R. R. said...

Thanks for these.

Rhonda Albom said...

Great resources list. I am using Scriverner for my writing and it has a name generator. I rejoined the IWSG this month and my questions are about character names also.

Sue Bursztynski said...

This does look useful. Must check them out. I do sometimes find a handy site but rarely return to them.Thank you.

JeffO said...

I tell you, maybe it's because of the time, place and culture of where I grew up, but I run across characters in books with names that make me roll my eyes sometimes. Not quite on a Moon Unit or Dweezil Zappa level, but sometimes I think authors are trying too hard to come up with something unique and memorable.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is awesome! I wonder if we could add some of those to the IWSG site? I bet the fantasy name generators are like that Metal Band Name Generator I posted last week. Fun!

Jennifer Hawes said...

Naming characters is one of my favorite things to do! I'm pretty proud of a cool name I generated on my own for a secondary character. I think you're right, you don't want too many weird or odd names in one book. The towns I've used are all real, so I don't have to make them up:)

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Writing a book is like having a baby, with lots of research, frustration, some pain and joy and decisions, decisions, decisions. Naming characters is fun, but hard work. I looked up what my name would be in today's time (Annalise), and I like it.

Crystal Collier said...

Nice resources! I don't usually have trouble naming things, although there has been the periodic NAME placeholder in my manuscripts. It's like ignoring a dirty floor. If you don't focus on the mess, it's easy to move past it.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Lexa,

Thanks for the sites.... Names are so important ....Thankfully I haven't had the need for names lately since I've been such a bad boy about writing... LOL. But soon I will be clicking onto those links. I better....

Good luck with the rest of you story and acquiring those illusive, perfect names....

Yolanda Renee said...

How exciting, thank you.

I used to take the obituaries and copy down names I found there, making different combinations of first and last names. But neat to have all these sites!

Emma Adams said...

I really struggle with naming characters, but those are some great resources! *bookmarks*

SA Larsenッ said...

Great links! You know, I've never really thought about pet names. Hmm... Human names are a huge deal to me, but pet names... I'm going to check that out.

Murees Dupé said...

I have exactly the same problems. It can take me days to research and look for the proper names. Thank you so much for sharing these helpful links. Also, thank you for sharing your insecurity. It's nice to know I'm not alone in worrying about this.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

My main characters usually tell me their names and will not be dissuaded from them.

Lately though, I've been having trouble with titles. Erg.

Laura Clipson said...

I tend to use Behind the Name quite a lot, but I didn't know about the others, thanks for sharing!

M Pax said...

Fabulous list of resources. Sometimes I just use what's on my desk, smoosh a couple of words together, and move letters around.

Melissa said...

I use many of these, too. But I'm bookmarking this page, 'cause you have more.! :)

IWSG #126 until Alex culls the list again.

Sherry Ellis said...

This is a good resource. I've been having fun coming up with different character names for a book set in Japan. It's interesting seeing all the possibilities.

Kate Larkindale said...

I don't usually have problems with names because my characters tend to pop into my head with their names already attached. But sometimes I need something unique or meaningful for a supporting character and I use some of these sites.

E. Arroyo said...

Thank goodness for that find and replace feature on Word or all my characters would have the same first letter in their first name and the same last name. =)

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Oh my goodness! I'm tired. I read "naming the main characters" as maiming the characters. I'd have trouble maiming characters too.

I just recently "found" the right name for a side character. I was doing the edits and still felt the name was off. - Like E. Arroyo I thank Word for the find and replace feature often. :)

Kimberly said...

What an awesome list of resources! Thank you for sharing these.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Names can be difficult sometimes. Thanks for the links. They look like fun and help. The one for names in the past will be great for historical fiction.

shelly said...

Last names stump me sometimes.

Birgit said...

Hahaaa! I always loved my name because it is unique to North America. My ex used to read these Fantasy novels and one of the characters was Birgitta and she was a viking who swore and loved getting into battle...hmmmmm:)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

What an excellent tool. Thanks, Lexa. I'm checking it out right now.

Jay Noel said...

I use Scrivener, and it has the BEST name generator ever. You can choose the cultural origin, first name and/or last name, male/female, what letters you want them to start with (or not), etc. It's amazing.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks for these useful links Lexa. I LOVE naming my characters, but titles can be difficult.

Denise :-)

My IWSG post on Mindfulness

Carol Kilgore said...

I love these links! I'm bookmarking this post. You can't believe how much time I spend on names. Well, again, maybe you can :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Vet Street - cute. Thank you for all the helpful links.

Kim Lajevardi said...

Name generators are fun. I also love searching name databases based on the meanings of names. I chose a core quality that the character needs or has and then search for names that strike me as perfect.

Heather R. Holden said...

So many great links! I've used a couple of these in the past, too. And I know what you mean about character names. While some come easily to me, others are like pulling teeth!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks for all the awesome links! I'm going to bookmark or pin this post for future reference. :)

lorilmaclaughlin.com said...

I'm going to have fun checking out all the links. Thanks!

Jenni Enzor said...

These are great links! I've used Behind the Name a lot. I often write books set in other countries, so it's easy to look up names by nationality.
I really need to check out some of these title links. That's what I have the most trouble with. :)

klahanie said...

Hey Lexa!

Check out them there links. I'm glad they are of help to you. Luckily, the only help I need comes from Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar! :)

Thank you for being part of "I Was Seeking Gary." I cannot take any more flattery.

Gary :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for the helpful links, Lexa. I sometimes struggle to get my character names right.


Rachna Chhabria
Co-host IWSG
Rachna's Scriptorium

Medeia Sharif said...

Helpful links here. :) I do use baby names sites often.

Medeia Sharif said...

Helpful links here. :) I do use baby names sites often.

Cherie Colyer said...

I didn't realize there were so many name generators. I'm going to play around with some of these. Thanks for the links.

Loni Townsend said...

I often get stuck finding names starting with different letters. My novels have a slew of characters, so varying the names so they aren't as confusing gets tough. These links are great resources!

Jeff Chapman said...

Cool list, Lexa. Thanks.

Here's another one: http://fantasynamegenerators.com/

Al Diaz said...

You won't believe it but just last week I was suffering because I needed to find a name for a character of a project I was working on (one for a superhero course). All these sites come very useful and handy. I'll check them out. Thanks and Dragon Hugs!

Andrew Leon said...

I hate doing the name thing.

Patricia Lynne said...

I'm always googling name ideas when writing. I should just bookmark a few sites I always find myself on.

~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
Story Dam
Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

Editors At Work said...

Thanks for these great suggestions and links.

~Brandy~ said...

What an incredible list of resources! Thanks so much for sharing!
Brandy from Brandy's Bustlings

Mark Murata said...

Titles of books have to be catchy. One of the best titles for a non-fiction work was The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of.

Cathy Keaton said...

The Lulu best-seller generator was pretty fun! My book title has a 44.5% chance of being a best-seller. Cool.

mshatch said...

Great links! I love finding the perfect name for my characters. Oh, and my title only has a 35% chance of success. Ah well.

dolorah said...

Oh yay, more stuff to use for research :) I try not to get too lost in coming up with all my character names. Sometimes they just pop into my head, especially all those pesky friends and such, but main characters do take time and effort to get just right.

Caffe Maggieato said...

Thanks for sharing! I suck at coming up with titles so those sites could really come in handy!

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