How to Choose Character Names
We all know the basic rules—don’t use names with the same first letter or that sound similar so as not to confuse the reader. But what if you want to take it a step further?
I love choosing my characters’ names. Sometimes they’re just names I like, and sometimes I put research into them. I’ve found several methods for finding that perfect name.
- Keep a list of names you like. I’ve done a fair amount of data entry in my work, which includes clients’ personal information. Whenever I find a name I like, I enter it into a file in my phone. I keep a file for female names, male names, and surnames. From these lists, is how I decided on the names in Fight Princess: Celisse Blalock and Cullen Surratt.
- Name meanings that match personality There are some great websites for names, many of which allow you to look up names by meaning. One of my favorite sites is http://www.thinkbabynames.com. Enter the desired attribute (strength, kindness, beauty), look through the search results, and choose something that sounds right for the character.
- Mythology If you want a more obvious reference, consult Greek or Egyptian mythology. For less obvious, research other cultures—maybe Sumerian, Welsh, Tibetan… It can match the character’s cultural background or be something completely different. If it’s really unusual, you might want to work in a reference as to how the character came to have the name (could make for an interesting background story).
- History I love reference books just as much as fiction. I have a shelf full of them, most of which have something to do with history—especially books like Hidden History by Brian Haughton and Ancient Mysteries by Peter James and Nick Thorpe. I find stories that somehow work with the character or plot and pick out names that sound suitable for my characters. Again, you can choose more popular stories or the obscure.
- Literature Maybe you have a character who finds adventure away from home whose last name is Gulliver. Maybe siblings, Lewis and Carroll, are involved with fantastical events. Maybe your mysterious painter is names Dorian.
- The Bible or other religious texts In my inspirational novel, Once, which is to be released 11/7/13, the main female character is named Rebecca, from the story of Jacob and Rebecca. I reference the Biblical story within the book, but it’s not always necessary to do so.
- 7. Landmarks or Locations Cities, lakes, mountains, bridges, roads… Currently, I’m working on a book whose lead male character has a strong connection to water. His last name is Trent, as in the River Trent.
- 8. Dead Languages Draco Malfoy, Albus Dumbledore, Luna, Ignotus… J.K. Rowling loves stealing from Latin especially. She also steals from history and mythology quite a bit. She is my naming hero!
- Match a theme. This is one of my favorites. I love referencing a theme—and then NOT pointing it out, just waiting to see if anyone catches it. In my soon-to-be-released YA paranormal novel, Strong as Death, all of the names somehow reference ghost stories (except the main character—hers has to do with name meaning). You’re tempted to read it now, aren’t you?
M. S. Kaye
Things aren’t what they seem. Don’t get involved.
Celisse is too headstrong to listen. Her best friend’s boyfriend is dead, and she does not heed Cullen’s warning, slipped to her in a note as he’s being arrested for the murder.
Cullen tries to keep Celisse out of danger and also tries to avoid her, both unsuccessfully. He can’t deny his feelings for her anymore, but he knows he can’t have her. If she ever discovered the truth about his past, she’d surely hate him.
While struggling with her intense feelings for Cullen, Celisse uses her skills as an ex-prosecutor to investigate, all while continuing to fight for Ogden, the organizer of an underground fight ring. She eventually realizes things are connected—the ring, Ogden, Cullen, the murder, and herself. She races to uncover the truth before she’s arrested or becomes the next victim—or perhaps, the next culprit.
Amazon – http://amzn.to/15xQX8O
M. S. Kaye is a 4th degree black belt and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, FL, where she does her best not to melt in the sun.
Contact M. S. Kaye at: