By Natalie Bright
Stuck. On a name.
Actually, I don’t know his name which is why I can’t write the story.
All of the components are there: setting, beginning, middle, and in my opinion, a brilliant ending. The story plays out in my head in vivid color, but what is his name? I have no idea.
As writers, we understand the importance of a great name. Fictional character names can inspire countless generations (Superman, DC Comics) and generate millions in promotional material (Charles Schulz’s Snoopy). We love those serendipity moments when a character’s name arrives like a gift out of thin air. Author David Morrell spoke at a writer’s conference about being extremely frustrated and stuck on a name for his character. His wife encouraged him to take a break and handed him a locally grown apple. The name of the apple variety was “Rambo”.
My character is quiet, yet very strong, and determined for all of his twelve years of experience. He’s not shy, but he’s not the life of the party either. He works hard and he loves horses. I can see him clearly. What in the heck is his name?!!
CHARACTER NAME RESOURCES
- School Yearbooks. I start with my son’s Jr. High yearbook. This is a modern story and there’s no better way to know what kids are being named than to glance at names in today’s world.
- Google It. Next I go to the life-changing resource that is Google (how did we survive before?). I’ve searched baby name sites for several days and jot down a page of possibles.
- Consult your Names Notebook. Whenever I meet someone with an unusual name, I make a note on my phone or whatever scrap of paper I can find, and then add it to my Names Notebook. Sometimes in conversation someone will tell me that their family has unique names, and they’ll jot them down for me. Also in my notebook are names of family members gleaned from Ancestry.com. Thanks to my Uncle’s genealogy work, it’s become a great source for ideas.
- Pinterest has some interesting links for names lists, like most popular, most unusual, most underused, ancient names, etc. You can find some of these on my Board “I Write” under @natbright on pinterest.com
- Still writing with character named ‘boy’. The search continues…
Where do you turn for inspiration and ideas to name your characters?