Character Names

Click, click, click… tap, tap, tap… this is me typing away at a new story. I haven’t had the time to be able to sit down and come up with a story idea from scratch, let alone actually start writing it, since before the holidays! However, the other day I found an extra few hours, grabbed it out of the air and away my fingers went until… I had to give my character’s a name. I came to a dead stop at that point.

So, I did as I usually do and used the standard name, Tommy, Penny, and Jill. That’s how I usually write my stories. I pick a very common name to throw in there to begin with and then when I get further into the story, I look on my favorite names list and choose one.

I’m curious to know how other writers come up with names for their characters. Do you find it difficult? Or do you know right off the bat your characters name? Do you use the same method when choosing a child, or pet's name?


  1. Actually, I think the name usually comes first. If it doesn't, I can see the name as I'm drafting out the character. I think to myself, "Hm, this dark-haired, spunky girl with the foul temper... she's Regan."

    It just fits. I don't plan. I don't try. The name simply appears, and that's the character from then on.

  2. When I'm working on a book (or at least what I hope will become a book one day), no matter if it's a picture book or a novel, the names usually come to me. I come up with a character and they become so clear in my mind that they suddenly just have a name. It's almost like I'm interviewing them to find out all about them and they tell me their names.

    When I'm writing short stories, it's completely different. I struggle to find names I haven't used before. I write a lot of short stories and I try to use different names in each. I like to use the names of people I know, too. I even used the name of an eight year old boy I know who reads all my stories, and he was so excited to finally read a story with his name in it.

  3. Woo, you two are lucky that the names come so smoothly for you. Not so easy for me, at least not most times. I have, however written a few stories that I actually started with the character name and then wrote the story from there. That's fun, but none of them published yet!!

  4. Before I start writing a new anything, the first thing I do is think about names. I see the character in my head, and think about what works for them. I do this before I even have a title for the project. Without the name, I dont feel connected to the character.