Creating Character Names: A Great Time Saver All Writers Should Use


Have you noticed how much time you can waste choosing a character name? It can be a big decision. You might be with these characters for a long time. Consider if a simple short story spawns a novel, which stirs you on to create a series. You’ll be thinking of these characters while your trying to fall asleep, while your driving, even while people are talking to you.

If I’m in a groove writing and I introduce a new character, I’ll often stick in a bunch of X’s and go back to it, just so I don’t lose my train of thought deciding on a name. This can come back to bite me when I start referring back to them. “Which xxxxxx was that??” Fortunately, there are websites that can take a lot of the over-thinking out of picking a character name. I’ve listed may favorites that will, hopefully, save you time that would be better spent writing, or at least keep you in the writing groove longer. I’ve created a file in my bookmarks called Character Names, where I have these listed and easy to find. You can do this in seconds once the sites are loaded…it’s all about saving time and energy.

One of the most versatile name listing websites is

This site allows you to find both first names and surnames by country of origin. In my thriller, Going Under, I needed some Italian names for the mob members, and French (French-Canadian) names members of a motorcycle gang. It was a breeze with this site.

If your just looking for first names of North American heritage, I find this site helpful as well.

This site will find you random boy or girl names, or you can browse a list alphabetically. It also allows you to find an name of a certain length which you can use if you want a short name.

Another interesting site is

This site allows you to search by common tags. ie. biblical, Lord of the Rings, country of origin, or TV shows. It will also find names similar to ones you like. If you like John, but don’t want to use it, the site will pull up similar names.

If you need a more specific name based on meaning or background of the name, this final site should be of help.

Fantasy names? This is outside my realm, but I found this cool site that will help create fantasy names.

One final thought, you’ll be writing some of these names out many, many times. Think twice about using long, complicated names, especially ones that spell checkers will highlight.

Hopefully these will be of help. I’d love to hear how you find them. If you have any other sites you have used, please leave them in comments or email me. I’ll add them to the post so we can all benefit. And if you want to do something really awesome, buy and review my book, Going Under: A Bill Roberts Thriller. I’d greatly appreciate it.

Write on,

Silas Payton



8 thoughts on “Creating Character Names: A Great Time Saver All Writers Should Use

  1. I use “Behind the Name” quite a bit — it’s a great site if you’re after a name that suits the character. Thanks for the link to Fantasy Names. I sometimes dabble in that genre 🙂


  2. Hi Lyn, Thanks for the suggestion. I checked it out and it does look like a good site as well. Great for background and history of names. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


    • Thanks Eric. I’ve had some fun with it, just playing around. I don’t write fantasy and generally don’t read much of it (yet), but I got a chuckle out of the name generator.


  3. Thanks for the helpful links, Silas! I might make use of the fantasy name generator. I also find that, if I do give a character a long or not intuitive to pronounce name, I try to give them a nickname that’s easier for the reader.


    • Thanks S.L. That’s a great idea about nicknames. It reminds me of when I used to read Tom Clancy. I would have a cue card to remember who was who, because the names were all foreign and hard to keep straight.


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