What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name? A whole lot when you write fiction. Finding the perfect name is a big step in the creative process.

Take your heroine Mildred and rename her Roxy. Viola! A whole different persona.

But how to pick a decent name for your character? And of even more importance, how NOT to pick a name. Here are some things to consider.

Baby Name Books

I think most writers have one of these, not to mention all of the online naming sites available now. But a big flashing warning to those single female writers out there. Beware of leaving your baby name book out on your coffee table when you bring home a first date. Trust me, a guy walking in and seeing your baby name book, that doesn’t go over so well. Might as well show up to meet him wearing a wedding dress.

Evil Trolls from Your Past

I know it’s tempting to name a character after someone you hate from your past. Perhaps that mean girl in high school or the guy who broke your heart. After all, as a writer, I have the option of killing that character off for the ultimate revenge. I’m not trying to stop you from doing so. But just consider this – even an evil/dead/zombie/crazy character is still going to be in your book. Do you want to give that past evil troll the satisfaction of being immortalized in print?

Anyone You’ve Ever Met Ever

I strongly urge you to never, ever, ever name a character after anyone in your life. It does not matter what kind of character you invent. If they have the same name as someone you know, that someone will think it’s based on them. “Oh, Kerri, that character you named after me is soooo me.” Really? Really? That character was a serial killer!


What’s in a name? A lot to think about. But the joy of this sometimes prickly process is that no matter what name you do pick, there will always be the option of search and replace.

Just in case.