Pro-Tips: How To Name Your Characters

Are you struggling to come up with cool, original names for your characters?

Here are some solutions.

  1. If you’re writing about your family members and you don’t want them to know, switch their names around. For example, if you have a husband named David and a dog named Tucker, reverse them.
  2. Have a toxic ex-boyfriend in your life? Cleanse yourself by naming the worst person in the entire fictional universe after him.
  3. Consider naming girl characters after flowers, like Lily, Rose, Columbine, Rhododendron, or Bergamot.
  4. Be original! Come up with unusual names rarely used in fiction, like Hermione, Offred, or Piggy.
  5. Name boys with monosyllabic names that mimic grunts, like Hank, Hack, Mack, or Truck, or Brad Pitt.
  6. Write what you know! Need to find a name for a dentist who ruthlessly murders his patient? Use your own dentist’s name. And street address.
  7. When you get stuck, use the old porn name formula: Name your character after your first pet and the street you first lived on. The protagonist in my next book will be a sweet, funny kindergarten teacher named Dracula Hatchet.
  8. Protect identities. Got a sexist, narcissistic, mean character in your book named Donald Trump? Just be clever and call him Shmonald Shmump.
  9. If you have a huge crush on someone, like say… Stephen Colbert, you can name your main heroic character Stephen Colbert, title the book STEPHEN COLBERT LOVES AMY, and then dedicate the book to Stephen Colbert. If he gets a restraining order, remind the judge that it’s fiction and apologize for the coincident.
  10. Flip through a baby name book with your eyes closed and point at random.
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Amy Poeppel grew up in Dallas, Texas and left the south to attend Wellesley College. Since then, she has worked as an actor, a high school English teacher, and most recently as the Assistant Director of Admissions at a school in New York City. Her three fabulous boys are all off in Boston attending school, and she and her husband now split their time between New York and Frankfurt, Germany. A theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS was workshopped at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into her first novel.

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