08 April 2015

Trusting Your (And Your Character’s) GUT!

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

There are several factors that could go in to naming a character. You may need to do a ton of research to find that one perfect name. But there is another technique, and it is probably the most basic when it comes to choosing a character’s name. That technique is to simply choose a name out of thin air.

Whenever this happens, I like to think of it as the character naming him/herself. You as the writer didn’t actually create the character; you’re merely telling his story and since he is a real person, he already has a name. Seems a little silly, but it really does feel that way. At a certain point during the early stages of plotting the story, the name will simply pop into your head as if the character whispered it in your ear. And for some strange, magical reason, whenever this happens the name is always right and always perfect.

Now this is probably easier said than done and it most likely won’t work for every character you ever create. But some characters are special. Sometimes the name is like an instinct. You just know when it feels right. Trying to change it feels like it would break your heart.

How exactly do you make the magical spontaneous name happen? Well, it’s really all about luck. It could happen, but it’s not guaranteed, no matter how passionate you are about this particular story or character. If you really want to make it happen, though, I have a few tips. Try to tune out everything around you—no noise, no computer, no phone. Close your eyes and think about your character. Don’t actually think about names. You don’t want a full list to flood your brain—you just want that perfect one. Think about what your character looks like, his mannerisms, the different things that will happen to him in your book. Think about someone calling his name. Then, hopefully it will come to you.

WHAT I’VE DONE: If you usually frequent my blog, I know what you may be wondering. Did Jordan name himself? OF COURSE HE DID. I have no say in anything else he does; why would I get to choose his name? I have no idea where his name came from. It just popped into my head and was instantly perfect.

Do your characters ever choose their own names? What do you do to get your character to speak to you? 


  1. I'd like to think my characters name themselves. Some of them have such unique names that I don't think I would have come up with them myself.

  2. My characters all name themselves, bar one. For that one, I search baby name books for a couple of days, just as I had his own mother doing, to get the perfect one!

    Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

  3. This is how I name my characters. Though I guess I'm not really naming them, they are....usually, a name presents itself and I'm just like "that's it!".

  4. I'm a thin-air person. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not. lol They correct themselves eventually.

  5. Haha, I never wondered if Jordan named himself- I knew he must have!!! :)

  6. Brand new follower here, dropping by from A to Z.

    Nice to meet you, Sarah!

    2015 A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Matthew MacNish from The QQQE

  7. I've had characters name themselves before. Sometimes those names are definitely not ones I'd choose. I recently wrote a short story where the protagonist named himself Hank. No other name would do for him after he declared it!

  8. Yeah, I've had characters name themselves as well. It's such a great feeling when that name just appears and you know it's the perfect one. :)

  9. I love that Jordan named himself. That doesn't happen too often for me with my character's but sometimes they will tell me. I've found listening to my characters to be the best thing I can do as a writer.

  10. If my characters spoke to me, I'd be worried.
    My main characters tend to come pre-named. The name is just part of who they are. So there's truth to your theory.

  11. The majority of my characters name themselves before I even write one sentence. I did have a ghost be stubborn about giving up his name, and an incubus who refused because names had power over his kind. He got a nickname in the end that fit.

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

  12. Keeping distractions to a minimum is always good advice. I'm working on that.

  13. I visualize what my characters look like, and some names just "fit," and many others don't. It's more of an intuitive kinda thing with me.

  14. I like your visualization exercise. That worked for my MC - it's just those pesky romantic interests that seem to stump my brain - but I'm going with that idea you had the other day for vowels . . .

  15. making up names is one of my favorite parts of writing! i named my first dog a year before i got him! (Cody) names are so fun! i especially liked naming my kids - Jace, Logan & Cooper =)
    the funny thing about Cooper, my hub came up with the name and I loved it - then he tried to come up with other names and I was like, we already have his name!

    not to mention - ha ha ha ha, "My name's not RICK!" great to see patrick here =) my kind of humor!

  16. I don't think any of my characters have named themselves. I'll have to think about it.