Coffee & Chat #1 How Do I Name My Characters?

Last week my sister-in-law asked me a question. She wanted to know how I named my characters and I told her. Then I got to thinking about some of the other questions I’ve been asked recently about writing and decided to create a regular feature on my blog. Coffee & Chat. I got my coffee so lets start chatting.


How do I name my characters?

It depends. 🙂 You didn’t think there would be a straight cut answer, did you? To be honest, I never really thought about how I go about naming my characters. I just do. Let me use a heroine in a romantic suspense story I began writing.

She began as Sunny Palmer. I loved the name Sunny for her. I’ve wanted to name a character Sunny for some time and when I was developing that story I seemed to find the perfect character for the name. Her background was she had a bright, positive attitude and she lived in the moment not really thinking about tomorrow or the consequences of her actions. In high school she liked to have a good time and she was in love with one of the Leighton brothers. She and Tucker got engaged and they were going to spend the rest of their lives together. That was until she got cold feet and took off. She eventually returned to her hometown a culinary school graduate and the owner of a bistro on Main Street. She’d gotten her act together but there were so many burned bridges she had a hard time settling back in. You see, everyone still thought of her as the young, irresponsible Sunny and not as a businesswoman. I wrote several chapters and my critique partner mentioned that the character I was writing didn’t come across as a “Sunny”. She wasn’t perky or outgoing, instead she was organized, disciplined and focused on defeating a big box store that threatened Main Street businesses. The more I thought about Ellie’s comment the more I thought about a new name for Sunny. I wanted a name that could be transformed from wild child to mature adult. A name that she feels she’s outgrown but many people still call her because they still feel she’s that person.

The name I settled on is Danielle/Dani. She used to be Dani and now she goes by Danielle. Now, she only has to convince everyone from her past to go along with the change.

There are times when I have a character that I have no idea of what his/her name should be. That’s when I used baby name directories online until I find just the right name. Sometimes I come across a name that intrigues me and I want to create a character for that name. There are a couple of things I keep in mind when I do name a character.

I prefer to use shorter names because it makes typing the names easier. I don’t choose names that start with the same letter for more than 2 characters because it can confuse a reader. I like to choose names that are easily pronounced because I want readers to talk my books up and they should be able to pronounce each character’s name.

So that’s how I name my characters. I’m going to finish my coffee now and if there is anything else you’d like to know about how I name or create my characters please ask. If you don’t have a question, don’t be shy – say “hi” in the comments section!


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