Writing Tip #2 – Determining a Character’s Name

How do you determine a character’s name?

Naming a character can be difficult. Here are the questions that every author should ask when they are deciding on the ‘perfect’ name for a character. (Note: it is okay to have more than one idea for a character name. Try out a few names and see what fits best.

Here is an example, from my novel, The Dragon, for my character, Lex Stanton.

  1. What is the character’s nationality? English. While her father was raised in America, his blood relatives were from England and came overseas when there were only 13 colonies.
  2. What is the character’s perception of themselves? She would describe herself as ambitious, loyal, and manipulative. While she strives to be a good person, and is incredibly loyal to those close of her, she also recognizes that she tends to use people for her own benefit, to get where she wants to be. She works hard to be a good person, but often only sees the bad inside of herself.
  3. How do others perceive the character? Her friends know that she is the most loyal person they have ever met. They also recognize that crossing her would be a mistake. They see her as a defender. In addition, they see her ability to remain steadfast in the midst of tragedy, and see her as a kind of rock that they can depend on.
  4. Describe the character in 3 positive words. Defensive. Loyal. Zealous.
  5. Does the character use a nickname? Is there significance? Yes, I want this character to use a nickname because it symbolizes her decision to choose her own destiny.
  6. Where are the character’s parents from (if this differs from the character’s nationality, i.e. the character is adopted)? Both are from England.
  7. What is the character’s faith? Christian.

First Name – Alexandrina. Named after Queen Victoria, an English queen. It means ‘defender of men’. She is a hero, even if she refuses to accept it.

Nickname – Lex. Not Alex, or Alexis; Lex, like Lex Luther because of her cunning and manipulative abilities. She views herself as the villain in her own story.

Middle Name – Ariel. Biblical for ‘lion of God’ (alternative to Jerusalem). The name of a prankster spirit from Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. Biblical ties for her faith (Christian), and acknowledges her mischievousness.

Last Name – Stanton. Means stone and is old English.

Now, you can try it!

  1. What is the character’s nationality?
  2. What is the character’s perception of themselves?
  3. How do others perceive the character?
  4. Describe the character in 3 positive words.
  5. Does the character use a nickname? Is there significance?
  6. Where are the character’s parents from (if this differs from the character’s nationality, i.e. the character is adopted)? 

First Name – 

Nickname – 

Middle Name – 

Last Name – 

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