What’s in a name?
In the writing world, names are everything. A character’s name can give the reader a glimpse of their personality or background, and a monster’s name can be the very thing that destroys it.
No matter the situation, what you name something is as important to the story as the plot. However, finding the perfect one can be difficult. There are things to consider, like genre, location, age, background, and social upbringing.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this overwhelming task! Here are five ways you can find (or make) a name that you and your characters will love!
Check Baby Name Lists
Naming your character is like naming a baby, so do what any expectant parent would do and check out some ready-made lists!
Not only are there a ton of baby name websites out there, but most of them also include the nationalities and meanings of the names.
Modify an Existing Name
If you plan to write something in the sci-fi or fantasy genres but still want the names to be easy to pronounce, then try modifying one of your favorite existing names.
- Emily can easily become Emalie or Emalee.
- Catherine can turn into Caterine or Cathine.
- Marie modifies into Maire or Mayre.
You can also use this method for towns (New York to Noryk or Neyko), creatures (Tigers to Tigre or Tygir), or whatever else needs naming!
Add or subtract letters, rearrange them, and play with them until something unique happens.
Have some Alphabet Soup
You’d be surprised at how useful a bowl full of random letters can be. Well, maybe not a literal bowl, unless you like cheap soup.
Instead, find a set of letters and put them somewhere noticeable. Then, pick which letter you want to use for the beginning sound and build off it.
So, if you needed a J name for a fantasy town in the middle of the desert, try Jahara, Jehera, Jirthe, Jikam, or Jizarda.
Or, if you need a strong sci-fi one that begins with a T, maybe Tikran, Tilona, Tixer, Tyrexa, or Tunaz.
The possibilities are endless when you’re throwing random letters around to see what sticks!
Use the Meaning
Does your character need a specific personality trait or background to make the story work? Then look for names with the meaning you want and go from there.
Are you naming a princess? Try Sophia (wisdom), Alexandra (helper and defender of mankind), or Eloise (battle maiden).
Need to name a wizard? Check out Galdur (Magic), Gwydion (the Welsh god of enchantment), or Jason (to Heal).
A name’s meaning is almost as important as the name itself, so make sure you check the meanings before you decide! You wouldn’t want your warrior named something that means soft and cowardly unless it’s part of their arc.
Use a Name Generator
If none of these other tips work for your writing project, then it may be time to check out a name generator. Generators can come up with dozens of fun, unique names that you can use (or modify) to suit your needs.
Some of them can sound realistic, like Lake Tishmar, or they can be completely ridiculous, such as a restaurant called The Fantasy Cow.
Finding the perfect names for your stories can be difficult, but it can also be incredibly fun with the help of these activities! Play around with them until you can give your characters (and more) the names that will bring them to life and make the reader- and the world- remember them long after they’ve finished the story.