Fiction,  Writing

4 Creative Ways To Name The Characters In Your Next Novel


Anyone can grab the baby name book off the bookshelf, or use any of the apps available, but I think there are more fun and creative ways to come up with character names. 


Start with the time period and country your book is set

If you’re writing from a book set in the United States in the 1980’s you are going to come up with very different names than if you’re writing about Japan in the 1800’s.  My name, Jennifer, was extremely popular in the late 1970’s, especially in the midwest, versus what’s popular name in baby names so make sure you keep these things in mind before you jump into books, apps, or your own imagination. 


Think about the main theme of your book

Let’s say you are writing a Young Adult romance novel with the theme of love conquers all.  I would use that word – love – and search for names that mean love.  Then I would brainstorm other words that make you think of love.  Romance, roses, chocolate and use those to help search for names. 

What chocolate brands are out there? Can they be used for last names? 

What rose varietals are there? Can they be used for last names?


Use movie and TV credits

Speaking of last names, one of my most fun tips is to use movie and TV credits to borrow/steal actual real names.  This works extremely well if you’re writing a story set in another country.  Find a movie on Netflix or Amazon from that country and use the credits to grab names.  Note: I would google the meaning just in case it comes up as something weird or contradictory to your book’s theme.   

Use Tarot cards

Who didn’t see this coming? I like to shuffle my deck, pull a single card, and concentrate on something small – like a river, a flower, or a city scape in the background – and just brainstorm all the possible names that come up for me.

For example, with a river, I might think of the character River Song from Doctor Who, who is played by the amazing Alex Kingston. Or my favorite flower is the Sunflower, so a nickname for my character might be Sunny.  City names were really popular for awhile so you might have an Austin or Brooklyn or London.

This can be used in many ways, so pull cards and have fun with this process!


Which one of these tips was your favorite? Which one are you going to try? I would love to know, so share in the comments below. 

And if you loved this, then I think you would especially like my free training – Novel Narrator: Creating Your Book’s Characters in 30 Minutes Using Tarot – which you can grab here.