What’s your name?


When writing any story, one of the hardest things for me to do is name my characters.  I can tell you their life story, fears, motivations, and where they will be at the end of the story, but I can’t tell you their name.  Fantasy characters are the worst.  Trying to come up with a unique and fitting name that matches the feel of the world I have created yet doesn’t look like an altered modern name can be an impossible feat.  That is usually the time I decide to look for a little help.  Baby naming books and sites can help if you are looking for modern names, but how do you find the perfect fantasy name?  Enter the generator.  I’m not talking about the noisy, fume-spewing, electricity producing type of generator.  I’m talking about name generators.

English: This is a generator.

Generator. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many different websites available that offer name generators.  Some even offer different types of generators.  You can find help for plot and story ideas, settings, characters, and systems of magic.  I have even found generators that help with government and world creation.  While some are good for amusement and time-wasting purposes only, others can help the floundering writer in many ways.  If you are suffering from writer’s block, the writing prompts can get your creative juices flowing.  No matter how silly or useless the end result is, sometimes it’s all you need to knock the cobwebs out of your brain.  If you’re looking for an unusual sword or castle description, a generator may be just the place to look.

I use the name generators frequently when naming characters for fantasy novels.  I may search for several minutes before I find the right one, but I have had a lot of success using this method when all others have failed.  Below are a few of the sites I use most often.  They are not the only ones out there, just the ones I’ve found most useful so far.

Seventh Sanctum

Serendipity

Rinkworks

While these sites will not replace your own imagination and creativity, they can certainly help when you find yourself stuck and looking for a name or description.  Think of them as a pensieve of unusual things you can sift through at your leisure.

Where do you go when you’re looking for names and ideas?

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6 Responses to What’s your name?

  1. Ned's Blog says:

    Solid leads on some good links. And you’re right: Even if the end result of the names generated are silly, it can be enough to spark an idea or, at the very least, inspire you to rise to the challenge of coming up with something better 🙂

  2. iHijinx says:

    I use a mix of people I admire and have been touched by positively for the good guys. The baddies or negative people are usually named after people who I either find out of magazines or a mix of people I don’t like! So watch out everyone! be nice or else! 🙂
    Eg. one of my characters is Isaac after Isaac Asimov. I don’t use the last name but it’s something in there just for me, you know?

    Fantasy names are tricky though. I found a good site (I’ll try and find it for you if you’re interested) for my sons Jedi party where it generates a Jedi name for you. I also found one where it tells you your Native American Indian name.

    Which ever route you choose, it’s tricky because you have to live with that name and associate a character to it. Great links – thanks.

    Z

    • The whole ‘live with it’ part is where I get hung up. I want to start writing, but if I can’t commit to a name, I’ll hold off for a day or two until I can. It’s tedious to change a name halfway through the first draft. I’ve only done it once, but that was enough to know I don’t want to do it again.

  3. I always use real names. There are so many thousands of names from different cultures that there’s bound to be one that’s suitable for every character. Real names also mean something, they aren’t a random assembly of letters. When I open a fantasy novel and find that the names are unpronounceable and littered with apostrophes, I close it and choose something esle.

    • I like using names from different cultures as well. I’m using a lot of Celtic and Gaelic names in my current fantasy novel. No apostrophes. I find them difficult as well. If I can’t say it out loud, I don’t use it.

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