by Kristen Crowley Held
I am really, really, really good at obsessing over character names. So good, in fact, that I've assembled quite a collection of books and websites that I use to seek out the PERFECT name. The name has to sound right both out loud and inside my head, has to fit the character without being too obvious and, if I'm really on my game, should have an extra layer of meaning known only to me (and readers well versed in name origins).
Occasionally, if it's not my protagonist who remains nameless, I can get away with writing things like [insert perfect name here] but usually I spend hours/days/weeks searching through my favorite character naming resources before I can move on.
Since I'm big on hidden meanings, one of my favorite resources is a book called Baby Names Made Easy: The Complete Reverse Dictionary of Baby Names by Amanda Elizabeth Barden.
"Baby Names Made Easy offers selections organized into categories of meaning, making it easier than ever to choose a name that is significant to you."
Some sample categories: Animals & Insects, Hardworking, Magic, and Protector. Have a character trait in mind? Pick a category and you'll find a list of associated names.
Does your character have siblings? The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg includes potential names for sisters and brothers with each listing. The Baby Name Wizard also has an awesome website that lets you track the popularity of a name over time and figure out in which part of the country your name is most often used. For a small fee you can also sign up for the Baby Name Wizard Expert Edition which uses Flash tools like the Name MatchMaker to find a name based on "your unique tastes and style."
Need a surname?
The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon has names and surnames from more than 45 countries.
Some of my favorite online character naming resources include:
Nameberry.com which lists names by every conceivable category. Looking for a Hipster name? Or maybe an Old Lady name? They've got you covered.
ParentsConnect.com allows you to search for names by meaning. Enter a word and they'll provide a list of names.
Nymbler.com helps you find the perfect name by having you choose names you like, but that aren't quite right, and extrapolates from there.
Looking for a cool nickname? Check out:
Or maybe you just want a randomly generated name?
If you use Scrivener you've got a name generator built right in.
If not, here are a couple of online name generators to check out:
That ought to keep you busy for a few hours/days/weeks!
And now that I've shown you some places to look for them, how do YOU choose the perfect name for your character?