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Number One Top Tip for Naming Story Characters | How to Find the Perfect Names

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How to Name a Character

Finding names for your characters can be difficult. You want to give them just the perfect name, but there are so many names to choose from. There are many factors that go into choosing names for your characters, so below you will find some things to consider when browsing potential names and some helpful tips for finding just the right ones.

Some Things to Consider

There are many names out there that will never even come into consideration for your characters. For example, if you are writing a piece written in the past, then you likely won’t be needing a more modern name. If you are writing a piece that takes place in a certain country or region, then it would make sense to use a more common name within that place. When you go to  find names for your characters, it can be helpful to ask yourself a few simple questions to narrow down your options. 

Narrowing down your options

If you are looking to make your list of potential names shorter, which you really should consider doing, then narrow it down by asking a few easy questions:

Is my character male or female?

How many names does my character need?

In what time period does my character live?

In what country or region does my character live?

Do I want my character to have a common or an uncommon name?

Is my character of a certain ethnicity or nationality?

I suggest you take a few brief moments to really think about the answers to those questions and write them down. 

Searching for names

Once you know if you are looking for a male or female name for a certain time period, in a certain region, that is not unusual and is common to a certain nationality, then you use that information to start your search. There are various places to look for names. One good option is using a baby name book. There are many out there and some of the best ones sort the names into different categories including by gender, region, time period of popularity, and even the meaning behind the name, variations, nicknames, and more. 

You can also use the internet to search for names. It is a lot easier to use when you know exactly what you are looking for. An example of a search that you might use is:

Common irish girls’ names in the 1850’s. 

Then you can find that the 10 most popular Irish girls’ names in the mid-19th century according to census records were:

  • Mary 
  • Margaret 
  • Catherine/Kate 
  • Bridget/Biddy 
  • Ann/Anne 
  • Ellen 
  • Eliza/Elizabeth/Betty 
  • Johanna
  • Sarah 
  • Julia

Top Tip for Finding Character Names

The number one tip that I can offer you in terms of finding names for your characters is to be as specific as you can when searching. Know what kind of name you are looking for before you look for it. This will make your life so much easier. As you are searching, also be sure to save names that you come across that you like but maybe won’t use for that specific character in a writer’s notebook to reference later on. If you don’t already have a writer’s notebook, then I strongly suggest you get yourself one. If you want to know more about it and how to make one of your own, take a look at this article.

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