Character Names that Captivate

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him! – Ray Bradbury


How important are character names? Honestly, it's pretty significant.

Let's look at the male name in movies for a second.

If you notice in movies there are perceived "strong" names used for male characters all the time and for some reason, we as the audience, seem to gravitate toward those characters. Is it because of their name? Maybe not. But let's look at a common name used in movies and books. Let's take the name "Jack" as an example. In English, the meaning of the name Jack is: God is gracious. It's a strong name and one that has been used over and over in many bestsellers. Let's take a peek at these blockbuster hits. 

Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean

Jack Ryan of The Hunt for Red October

Jack Bauer of 24

Jack Shephard of Lost

Jack Bristow of Alias

Jack Skellington of The Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Burton of Big Trouble in Little China

Officer Jack Traven of Speed

Jack T. Colton of Romancing the Stone

Jack Dawson of Titanic

Col. Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neil of Stargate SG-1

Jack Stanfield of Firewall

Am I suggesting that you use the name, Jack? HECK NO! But I am telling you that everything you add to your book, down to the name of your character does matter! Match the name with the hero. Is he an oddball? If so, maybe give him a nickname that he's had since he was in high school or college. Put time into your characters names. Each one is important.

A Pile of Character Names

I read name tags and listen to names when I make a business phone call. When I find a name I absolutely love, I log it in to my Wunderlist app (We'll go over Wunderlist in another post) to use at another time for another book. I went to a restaurant, and the waitresses name was Kamara. I loved it. I added it to my list of names for future books. But sometimes, I want a different name. I want more than just a name, and when that happens, I always rely on the excellent online app that I found a long time ago. The creator of this app kicked some serious butt with this online website.

Here is the link: Name Generator Fun

And here's how it works. When you click the link, you'll see this: 

Character names sell

Choose the Ethnicity and Sex 

Character names sell

Click the Get Character's name button and you'll get much more than just a name. I chose an African American Male and it gave me the following: 

Character names sell

Character names sell

There's even more about the name, but you can play with the site yourself. Sometimes, I will use this as a way to get to know a new character that I'm not familiar with. It could be my hero or heroine or my villain and I'll add in things that I know about him/her and remove things that don't sound quite like this new person I'm trying to get to know. HOWEVER, if you don't know your characters yet, and you don't have a name, this is a great tool to help spark some creativity in giving your characters just the right name and personality. Don't get me wrong, personality will develop on its own, but we ALWAYS need a starting point.  

What if you're writing Sci-Fi or a Fantasy novel? I've used this app here. But it's not quite as detailed, and it's good just to help spark a little extra creativity. Also try: here 

My favorite stands. 

Of course, there are name generators for EVERYTHING these days. I've used them for naming planets and aliens etc. You can even find generators for your cell phone. It's a great tool when you need some help with the ground work of your characters. 

How much thought do you put into your character names?


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