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November 26, 2008

Naming Names.

I saw this ad on TV the other day. It’s from my favorite New Zealand store, Whitcoulls, and it made me laugh because this name problem has been me for the last three weeks. Today, I sat down and toughed it out, choosing names in much the way this couple did. In fact, I used the very same baby naming book to work out character names for my new work in progress.

How do you choose names for your characters? How did you name your kids?


  1. Eleni Konstantine

    That is such a cute ad Shelley. How do I choose names? Well I make them up – the beauty of fantasy – though I think they all have a flavour of my greek background in them. Haven’t got kids but greek tradition is to name the children after the grandparents.

    BTW – I have nominated your blog for the ‘I LOVE your blog award’. Can see details at:

  2. Shelley Munro

    Hi Eleni – thanks so much for the award!!
    I often use Maori names for my sci-fi/paranormal stories. My new WIP is set in America. The names should have been easy to find but they weren’t for some reason. :roll:

  3. Karen Erickson

    Ah that is such a cute commercial. Loved it!

    Well lately I’ve been going to the social security website and enter the year my hero or heroine was born and then look at the top 100 names during that year. But someone on PI just shared this site addy:


    It’s a pretty cool site – check it out!

  4. Gabriele

    Mine need to be historiacally correct, so I look for sources and lists (it’s easy for the Romans, but really tricky to name first century AD Picts with help of a 12th century list of kings in a Latin transription of 6th-9th century names). Next is they have to look right to me – I’m synaesthetic and every word has a colour aura. Difficult to describe, but changing a name will not only change the aura but often also his character in my mind, that’s why I usually refuse to change a name after a certain point in writing where he/she has become manifest for me.

  5. Sandra Cox

    Cute! Thanks for sharing.
    Happy Thanksgiving, Shel.

  6. Amy Ruttan

    Very cute!

    Well, I’m coming up with a database of the names I’ve already used. Because when I was going through a finished manuscript tweaking it I realized every single secondary character was named Gilchrist! Whoops.

    I’ve always like Brianna (Boo), and I’ve always loved Aidan (Sumo) and being that my husband’s family is Scottish and Irish and there’s English on my side I thought giving them very Celtic type of names would be a nice tradition.

    I’m having a hard time with the current bun in my oven. Trying to think of what to name him or her.

    It’ll be a panic right to the end. LOL.

  7. Shelley Munro

    Karen – the social security site is a great idea. We don’t have anything like that for NZ. Thanks for the link!

    Gabriele – I hate to change names once I’ve named my characters. I had to change a name for one of my EC books and luckily it was after all the edits were done because the character didn’t seem the same!

  8. Shelley Munro

    Hi Sandra – happy Thanksgiving to you. I’m glad your computer problems are sorted!

    Amy – that’s a great tradition to start. I love both Brianna and Aiden. As long as you and hubby don’t have to resort to the same method this couple did you should be okay. :lol:

  9. N.J. Walters

    That is such a cute commercial!

    How I come up with names depends on the book. If I need an ethnic name–Romanian, Russian, etc…I check out some great on-line sites. Of course, the handy dandy baby naming book is on the bookshelf and I’ll flip through that one too.

  10. Barbara Martin

    Often with character names they are already formed when I begin a new character. There have been times where I’m stumped for a name, and I go on writing the character under a temporary name until I come up with one that I feel fits. For example, in my second manuscript I have a secondary male character who appears for long periods in the first half of the story which I have named Wilhelm until I come up with something different.

  11. Leah Braemel

    I think it was easier to name my kids than my characters – I still struggle with that.

    How did GG & I name our kids? We chose names that couldn’t be shortened (or lengthened) to an E sound – that is GG’s bugaboo that his brothers and sisters still refer to him with his babysounding name. Our first wasn’t named after anyone we knew and would give us a variety of nicknames, and our second, well, we did have a friend with that name but it just seemed like a strong name. I don’t think we took long at all.

    My characters? I’m STILL trying to find a proper name for a character I started writing a YEAR ago. Regular baby name books just don’t seem to do it for me, I’m on the lookout for Sherrilyn Kenyon’s character naming book because it has a ‘reverse lookup’ feature. And the net naming sites are such time sucks.

  12. Shelley Munro

    NJ – I think the ad is cute. I must admit I get a bit frustrated doing online searches. I’m more likely to reach for the telephone directory or my baby naming book.

    Barbara – there’s no way I can write a character without knowing his/her name. I just can’t do it!! It kills my writing entirely. I have to decide on the perfect name first.

  13. Shelley Munro

    Leah – I haven’t heard of a reverse naming book. It sounds intriguing. Do you have a link?

    I have to agree with your hubby. The last thing I’d want is to go through life with a baby nickname. My parents were originally going to call me Michelle but decided to call me Shelley instead since I was going to end up being called that. My name is often shortened to Shell but I don’t mind that.

  14. Jennifer Shirk

    Ha! Yeah, I used a baby name book for the story I’m working on now. :grin:

  15. Shelley Munro

    Leah – thanks for the link. I’ve bookmarked the link Karen gave as well. I must check out this reverse thing.

    Hi Jennifer – I did the baby book thing for my most recent story.

    Oh, another good source of names are the closing credits on TV shows and movies. I’ve picked up some interesting names this way.