I was having this conversation with MMJaye, and she was observing how hard it can be to find the right name for your characters. First, I was reminded by this hilarious comic by Tom Gauld:
Then, I remembered all the research I went through when I was looking for character names for my epic fantasy series, Pearseus (in my sci-fi collection, The Power of Six, I cunningly avoided using names). The people on Pearseus are the descendants of Earth’s high society, so they’d be from all over the world. It’s an indecisive writer’s worst nightmare; the sort of situation that keeps you up all night: I’m looking at a character that’s half Persian, half Indian. What is a common name for that, I wonder? Hmm…
So, when I came across the Character Name Generator for fun, I giggled like a schoolgirl. It’s a website that allows you to specify the age, sex and ancestry of your character, then suggests a random name. It even throws in a little suggestion for an appropriate personality, based on the Myers-Briggs personality test!
Even more surprising was the fact that there seem to be dozens more of similar websites and applications! A particularly interesting one was a free software called, appropriately enough, the Character Name Generator. More customizable than the website above, it also allows you to specify whether you’re looking for an obscure or a common name.
But wait – there’s more! Are you a fantasy writer, wondering what to call not just your mage, but also that cafe in the 9th ring of hell where he was accidentally thrown by that portal? Well, the good people at Fantasy Name Generators have created an entire website dedicated to spewing names for characters and places!
If your book is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, what better resource than the Fantasy Name Generator – the place that will give you not just any name, but an insulting name like Cheesefinger or Twitface, if you so desire? This is an invaluable tool for fantasy or science fiction writers, as it allows to specifically ask for names with apostrophes, vowel-heavy names, names with dashes etc.
Oh how I wish I had known all this a couple of years ago… Anyway, next time you’re stuck for a character name (or, why not, a baby name), be sure to check out one of these great resources to help you out!
What’s your favourite way of coming up with character names?