Wednesday 6 May 2015

IWSG: What's My Name?

The first Wednesday of every month is the Insecure Writer’s Support Group bloghop. It's a day where writers/bloggers reach out and post their fears and doubts about their writing, but also share their triumphs, no matter how big or small.

The biggest issue I have this month is one I've struggled with for as long as I can remember, and that's time. I know most of us struggle with the time issue. We try squeezing seconds out of our busy lives to write a chapter or two, or heck just a few sentences would be great. But I don't want to talk about the time issue today because it so often comes down to prioritizing and re-evaluating personal goals. What I do want to talk about is something that's been bugging me lately, and that's the name game. I'm usually pretty good at naming characters. However, ever since I started writing this sci-fi  story, I can't, for the life of me, seem to come up with a good name for my main character. It's gotten to the point where it's become a mental block. I'm having a hard time writing freely without her name. 

Why? *shrugs* 

I know many of you refer to certain characters as "The Bad Guy" or "Sexy" in your writing until you find a real name. But I can't even do that. I have a few pages where I refer to my main character as XX, but that just hurts my eyes and distracts my train of thought every time I see it. 

So how do you guys settle on names? Do you have a technique, or does it just come to you somewhere between morning coffee and the evening sherry? ;)

Other than that, hope everyone is happy, healthy and writing. :) 
Have a great weekend all.


Thank you, Alex Cavanaugh for another great bloghop. And a big thank you to all the awesome co-hosts this month! 
To find out more about the IWSG monthly bloghop or the IWSG website, click the links.


  1. You really want to know how I come up with science fiction names? (Actually, I think I had this in one of my Challenge posts last month.) I place the alphabet in front of me and then just randomly come up with simple but unique words that start with all the letters. Or I take a regular word and twist it. (Stapler - Stape.) I do that for most of the characters (and usually after I've written the first draft, so you can imagine all the blank lines I have) and just match them up with the names I've chosen.
    That help?
    And if you still struggle, have a couple drinks. Trust me, you'll come up with some interesting names then!

    1. Thanks Alex! I do something similar by splicing words and putting them in different orders, but trying to name this one character is giving me fits. I guess I just need to pour myself another. ;)

  2. I am sure having a drink will produce lots of good names, but will you like them later? It occurs to me, just because you are writing sci fi doesn't mean your character can't have a regular name.

  3. In one of my MS, my MC has changed names half-a-dozen times and I still don't like it. Usually, I go through baby names or google meanings or just listen to all the names of my kids' friends at school (so many I've never heard of). It's hard. But when it comes to you, it will probably be a great one.

  4. I can go nuts trying to settle on a good name. There are times I just go to random name generators and keep clicking until I find one I like.

  5. If a name doesn't come to mind. I close my eyes, hit a bunch of random keys and then make a name out of the letters.

  6. Hey Elise,

    Some excellent responses to your character name dilemma. I write down a bunch of zany names and then Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar, places her paw over the name she thinks is best for the particular character. Her favourite one was "Ann Tagonist"!

    You'll be fine. "Daft" Vader has told me so!

    Gary :)

  7. My characters choose their own names. I never get a choice.
    I mean, where the heck did JAX come from? I didn't pick that!

    I cannot write a story with a blank or filler as a name. Like you, I wouldn't be able to function with an unnamed character.

    I suggest listening quietly. Scan the credits at the end of a movie. Scan news article on the internet. Listen when the wind rustles branches. Wait for your character to scream, "That's it! That's my name!"

  8. My main way to figure out names is to look up baby names online. I might need a Latin name or something like that, and I usually find something to satisfy. You might need to invent your names, so that could be harder. There is a way to figure out your Star Wars name, which is to use the first three letters of your last name added to the first two letters of your mother's maiden name. That's just for your first name! It's fun and you might invent some really good sci-fi names.

  9. I know the feeling of wanting that perfect name to fit your character like a glove. I've changed the names of characters enough times that I know now that I should write the story first, and finalize the names later.

    Other things I do: I have a baby name book....and I've also tried working in characteristics of a character into their last name, if it's hard to do so with their first name.

  10. I know the feeling of wanting that perfect name to fit your character like a glove. I've changed the names of characters enough times that I know now that I should write the story first, and finalize the names later.

    Other things I do: I have a baby name book....and I've also tried working in characteristics of a character into their last name, if it's hard to do so with their first name.

  11. Most of the time I don't have trouble naming my mc but I hear you on the not being able to write without the name because I can't call someone by some designation. I have to have a name and it will stall me the same way it stalls you. I do have a huge book of names from a variety countries which is very helpful and I also save programs from my nieces and nephews events because sometimes a name will pop out me that I know I'll want for some character in the future.

  12. I keep running names through my head until one feels right. I've heard some people buy baby name books and use those.
    Susan Says

  13. I have had this problem too. I use a real name, so when I'm writing I can hear how it sounds. I'll know pretty quickly if I need more syllable or less, hard sounds or softer. Then I swap out names until I find the right one.

  14. Most names come to me when the character introduces themselves. If nothing comes and it's getting distracting then I make a list of any name I can think of that fits the culture, gender, or whatever of my character. Sometimes I'll work off a sound that I think the name should have (look at all names that start with G, or something like that) Then I just read the list over and over until something sifts into place. Frustrating, but it will work out eventually.

  15. Hi, Elise, I have the same situation as S.P. above. I wonder if your challenge has to do with the genre in which you write. Cutting edge sciencey names may be harder to come up with?? Dunno.

  16. Hi Elise - thanks for the visits during the A-Z and sure hope you all had a great trip to see your Dad ... naming things must be so difficult ... I guess going in the direction of a scientific name - should be easyish for you with your background ... but I know we can have those blanks ... and it's being able to step away for a while .. when something suddenly pops up ...

    Take care and good luck .. cheers and oh yes have another drink ... later on please too early now! Hilary

  17. Hi Elise - tis me again .. just been listening to something on the BBC re colour and the change of use over the centuries of the various colours ...

    But came across this site in my looking for a couple of references ...

    Thought it might help ... p'raps?! Cheers H

  18. I sometimes use a random fantasy for sci-fi generator that I find online and look through a couple hundred until one strikes my fancy. Just type in "fantasy name generator" and you'll see what I mean.

  19. Names are so important. I either get them right away, or I have to do some long and hard thinking about getting the perfect one.

  20. Hey, Elise. Have you tried having a chat with her? Literally out loud? Maybe pretend you're taking her on a job interview or going to the doctors. Point being, it feels like you need to know her better. Maybe not. Try finding two specific characteristics that are so boldly her and then Google those. See what you get. It might lead you to a name or at the very least inspire one. :)

  21. I struggle with names... always have.
    My characters remain Mr.X and Ms.Y for a long time.

  22. If I wrote fiction, my setting would have to be the American South. I could create endless names combinations: Billy Bob, Bubba Joe, Daisy Mae, Betty Bobo, etc. I would just have to make sure to protect the innocent (and not recall any of the Bubbas that I arrested back in the day).

    I hope things are well for you and your family, Elise.


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