21 April 2015

Research & Resources

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you'd want to know about naming characters.**

Sometimes when you're naming a character, the name will simply pop into your head. Even when you find yourself this lucky, however, you may still need to do some research to make sure your name is accurate. And if you can't figure out a name, there are plenty of resources out there that can help you. Here are some tips and places you can go to help you figure out those pesky character names. 

Research Tips
  • Once you've figured out your character's full name, Google it. You want to make sure it doesn't belong to a well known character or a famous person. 
  • Make sure your character's name fits their ethnicity, especially their last name. If you haven't figured out your character's ethnicity, do some research on their physical traits to figure out where they could have come from. 
  • Also make sure the name you've chosen would actually be used in the time period your book is set. 
  • Check out name meanings to find something that reflects your character's personality, or just for that added bit of symbolism (there may be an entire post on this subject in the future...)

My Favorite Resources
  • Behind the Name: My absolute favorite name site. Each name entry includes the meaning as well as where the name came from and what cultures use it. You can also look up names from Ancient and Medieval times, as well as mythology. And check out their separate site for surnames
  • Nametrends.net: This site allows you to look up a name and see how popular it has been in different years. It also includes US maps to show which states the names have been popular in. 
  • Fake Name Generator:  This site generates a random name with an added bonus of an entire identity, including address, email, and mother's maiden name. It also lets you choose what culture/ethnicity you'd like the name to come from. 
  • Fantasy Name Generators: This site will create a fantasy name for every fantasy series, and can also come up with names for pretty much everything else you could imagine--places, pets, band names (wait a second! I'll be over here for a while...) 
What sort of research do you do when naming a character? Have any favorite naming sites?


  1. I've never used any sites! Great tips. Some help is good, after all most people only need to do this when they have babies... we have to do it constantly!

  2. I tend to land on Mongabay.com when searching for names. They provide lots of options but some of the ones you've found sound more fun.

  3. All great tips. I've never used those websites for a characters name before. I'll have to try it. Thanks!

  4. I absolutely love Behind the Name. I can spend way too much time on there LOL.

  5. I spend so much time on name sites. Seriously. I love when you can mesh a bit of symbolism into a character's name.

  6. Thanks for the links! I'll definitely be checking them out for my next WIP!

  7. I love the Nametrends website! Thanks for the other great suggestions! I'll definitely be using them next time I need to character name.

    Good luck with the A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy

  8. Great post! I've actually perused the white pages phone book (back when people actually had phone books) to find my perfect Italian name for a character in my crime novel. But I like your resources much better!
    Michele at Angels Bark

  9. I was going to name the main character of my next book Barbra Streisand but now I think I won't :). Great tips and I agree with Alex - the fake name generator does sound fun!

  10. Excellent links!! I am going to run my current character through all of them and see how she fares!

    Tim Brannan, The Other Side Blog
    2015 A to Z of Vampires

  11. I usually just google "First name", "Surname", or "[Insert ethnicity] name" when trying to find a name.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  12. Thanks for the resources. Since I write a lot of historical stuff I have found that the Social Security historical name page is helpful.http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/decades/century.html

  13. These are great. Thank you! I have to check out Behind the Name. Great post!

  14. Name generators!
    How cool is that.
    I've been hanging out at baby name sites.