How to choose the best name for your character

A name is very important to your reader. Names, first and last, define a character enabling the reader to envision the character. 

Do you struggle with selecting a cool name?

I do! Every time I sit down to develop a new character, I struggle.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about selecting the best name.  I’ve tried name generators and had mixed results. On rare occasions, a name comes to me and just fits. You know what I mean?

Other times as with the antagonist in my current WIP, selecting a name is a major pain in my ass. I’ve changed her name a dozen times or so it seems. Her name still doesn’t work for me. At times I’ve called her Madame X just so I could get a scene down. Come to think of it Madame X, hmm. No, definitely not.

I recently received a newsletter with a video about this very subject. And as usual, I learned something new.  This video is so good, I watched it three times. So I decided to share.

Here are the tips I gleaned from Chris Fox.

Start with an adjective that describes the character.

  • Short or tall?
  • Fat or slim?
  • Little/small?
  • Rugged or polished?
  • Young/old?

Next, add color.

  • Black, or white?
  • Pale or tanned?
  • Red
  • Dark /light

Combine these attributes with a noun that describes temperament or appearance. Such as…

  • Beard
  • Hair
  • Eyes
  • Mad
  • Hateful
  • Funny
  • Humble

Or combine with social status.

  • Baker
  • Politician
  • Doctor
  • Lawyer
  • Knight
  • Farmer
  • Blacksmith
  • Social climber

Or combine with the region they’re from. A city, wealthy, and well-educated or a person from Europe, may have a longer first name. If they are from a small town their name is more often as not a shortened version or nickname.

  • City (highrise, small apartment)
  • Small town (suburban house)
  • Farm
  • Northern city/town
  • Southern city/town
  • Swamp
  • Mountains/beach
  • France
  • Africa
  • Italy
  • Ireland

A name comes from 4 primary categories.

  1. Patronymic: a name derived from that of the father or a paternal ancestor usually by the addition of an affix
  2. Locative: If a person from a certain region, or country, you may want to anglicize a name or translate to a different language. Google translate is great for this.
  3. Socioeconomic/Job title/status: of, relating to or involving a combination of social and economic factors
  4. Nicknames:  a substitute for the proper name of a familiar person, place, or thing, for affection or ridicule
    1. Looks, behavior often attributed to this name.

My tip: What finally helped me select the perfect name for my antagonist?

Google! After using these suggestions I came up with two or three I liked. Then I Googled the meanings of each. Voila! Found what I needed.

At last, I settled on Margo Richardson for my troublemaker.


How do you select your characters name?

Want another great website to find a cool name?

Try13 Ideas for Creating Cool Character Names

For your watching pleasure…




How to avoid embarrassing grammar mistakes?

I wish I knew. 

Thank God for grammar programs and Beta readers. Because I make mistakes every time I write, and lots of them. Maybe all the social media short hand is to blame, or maybe the slang we fall back on. But I do know for me grammar is hard work.

A recent post by Christina DesMarais on the 43 Embarrassing Grammar Mistakes Even Smart People Make is terrific. So I thought I’d it share with you guys because I can’t be the only writer who struggles with grammar. Except for maybe my daughter and my sister. They are two grammar nerds that are always nipping at my writing, the little know-it-all.

What I like most is Christina picks words and phrases that even seasoned writers often get wrong. I’ve seen a few of these in books by well-known writers. Uh, no I’m not going to name names.

Even though we may use some of these words and phrases in everyday conversations, it most certainly does not make them correct. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Number 1, can’t wait to share with a clerk. LOL
  • Okay, guilty of using Number 3 in conversation.
  • Number 7, it’s been misused a lot lately.
  • I love Number 20, take that, adverb haters.
  • Well, do tell. Number 22. How about from bad to worse?
  • When I read Number 24, I chuckled.
  • What Southerner hasn’t used Number 25 wrong? LOL
  • Number 36, kids love this word and use it a lot.
  • Number 38 was new to me, love learning something new.

Read Christina’s article and tell me which ones jumped out at you.

 43 Embarrassing Grammar Mistakes Even Smart People Make

Any favorites?

Do you think social media has hurt grammar?

Any additional reminders to help us?

Do you have any grammar pet-peeves? Do share!

Laugh as you learn grammar tips from this video.

Talk to me, I love reading your comments.

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