Why is it so hard to choose names for your characters?

Good morning, Readers! 


I hope everyone is having a happy Monday! I was thinking of another book idea and I noticed that I had a hard time picking names for my characters. As a writer, do you struggle with names? I try to give my character an ethnicity and try to pick names that I think will go with the character. This is sometimes a daunting thing to grasp. I can’t start any story without the names. What process do you take to get started?

My process for names…

My writing Process


First, I decide the kind of genre that I want to write in. I think of the storyline. What can fit? What sounds good, what does not? Then, I start to think of names that match each other well. While I am doing this, I have to figure out the nationality of my characters also which is a pain. The one thing that I don’t want is for people to see a different name and categorize it into a genre just because of a name or title. You know? I have had this happen often and I feel it’s very stereotypical. It’s sad that people judge books based on their cover and title. Like, for example, if I have a black person on my cover, it’s automatically viewed as Street Lit. I have been asked many times if the book was street lit. So, I am making my covers a little softer and to the point of the storyline.




I love when my characters are relatable to real life events and people. If my readers can say that they can relate to a situation or a personality, then I am a great writer! In my opinion that is what being a good writer is all about. If they can picture themselves there in that moment with the character, then you are doing something right. I will write some characters that people don’t believe in–and that’s okay, but for the most part it will still be a good read. Also, you will have some readers that just don’t like what you write. As a writer, we can’t please everyone. My mentor told me in the beginning of my writing career, she said, ” Write the story that YOU would want to read.”  I have doing just that ever since. If you write to please someone or a company, at the end of the day, YOU won’t be happy with the product. Whether you have good or bad characters, write about them to the best of your ability!

Tips for writing good characters…


The development of a character is a very detailed process, and one that requires a lot of thought. According to Candace Schaefer and Rick Diamond (The Creative Writer. Addison-Wesley, 1998), you should consider many factors when introducing a character to readers. All of the kinds of details mentioned below are necessary to fully develop a character because each of them reveals a different part of the character’s appearance or personality and gives background about that character’s traits.

Physical Details about the character: Is he/she short, tall, thin, old, etc?
Physical environment surrounding the character: Is he/she on a desert island, in an urban community, living in the mountains, etc?
The other characters surrounding the character: What kinds of people does the character associate with?
The things that the character does: Does he/she go to school, fly an airplane, eat pizza every night for dinner, etc?
The things that the character says or thinks: These things reveal the character’s feelings and opinions about things.

When writing characters, it’s easy to get so much into them that you put pieces of yourself in your characters. Is this a good idea? Sure, why not? After all, characters have some sort of part of us in them,right? If not you, you got them from someone that you know. I know I always use characters as apart of someone that I know. Maybe not their full personality, but if it’s something that they say, I will use it. I think that part of a character can be hilarious. For example, my father is a jokester. He is stupid funny. He always makes me laugh. I am going to make his personality a character in one of my future books.  As long as you make character appear to be a real person you are golden!! Happy writing! Question: How do you figure out your characters? Answer in the comments below.

22 thoughts on “Why is it so hard to choose names for your characters?

  1. When writing fiction, I always write Science Fiction or Fantasy, so it gives me a lot of room to come up with unusual names. Finding names tend to be an easy part for me. As for how much they steal pages from their writer’s book! It is quite organic for me. What I am careful with is that they are well layered, and have balance in qualities and defects.

  2. This really is tough! I always get caught up in what the names mean, and spend way too long looking up name meanings… but when you find the perfect name, you just know it’s right!

    • Yes. I never look at the meaning of names. For me. if it sounds good and fits the person, let’s go. For example, I have a book out called ” Jawbreakers” which is about bullying. I made the name of the main character a mix between my friend and her daughter. Her daughter is Zoe, and my friend is Elle. I made the name Zoella Best. Best, because it sounds good next to Zoella. LOL….it works!

  3. It’s funny, but naming my characters is always a breeze. It usually takes a couple of minutes, tops. I’ve only felt the need to rename a character once, so I guess I am doing something right.

  4. It really depends on the character for me. There are some that come screeching out of the gates with their names at the ready, others I have to write for a while before I figure out the correct name for them. I also try to not match their names too much to their personalities (at least, not overtly) because it isn’t realistic. Even though I write fantasy, I try to think about what a parent might name their child (within the context of their culture and society and traditions). There are some people whose names just seem to FIT them, but there are others where the names don’t, and I kind of like to have some of that. Those characters who, when they introduce themselves to someone else, are kind of awkward about it because they know that the name Orville doesn’t exactly proclaim “skilled barehanded fighter who can snap your neck with his bare hands”

  5. I LOVE naming characters! It’s actually one of my favorite things about planning my stories. I use http://www.behindthename.com. They also have a last name database.
    As for getting to know my character. I write in their voice in first person where they tell me all about themselves for a few pages. Their family, their history, what makes them tick, their idiosyncrasies, etc. I do this on actual paper because it makes it feel more real. From there, I add physical details. I want the character of the character right after the name. But I definitely need names ASAP after a character wanders into my consciousness.

  6. I usually have my main characters modeled after someone I know, so I tend to use some of their traits. But then sometimes, they take on a life of their own and I love when that happens. Usually I just have initials in mind when I start, then I try different names until I like what fits. 🙂

  7. I keep a running list of names I like, and also use a baby name generator (babynames.com is one I like). You can input traits and then the generator will create a list of names synonymous with that trait. That has been my secret weapon. 🙂

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