Creating Characters

Let me be more specific–creating character names. In an earlier post, Contemplating Scrivener-software which I had only recently discovered-I wrote about my find. So far it seems like Scrivener and I could work out (albeit, I’m still only halfway through the tutorial). In part of the aforementioned post, I listed name generator as one of Scrivener’s features. To each his own, but making up character names has always been a chore for me. I am very finicky and quite often over think the whole situation. On the particular project I am working on now, many of the characters are Germans or of German extraction. So of course they need over the top yet authentic names! I contemplate: should the names mean something, should they foreshadow the plot? Get it together! Be like Kafka; he was an expert at character names.

I was curious to try the name generator feature of Scrivener even though I have yet to come across it in the tutorial. You are able to put various restrictions on your generated list but I just put in female | both First and Last name of German origin | 10 names. There are other options like whether the name should start or end with a certain letter, but I kept it simple. Here’s my generated list:

Rillie Eberhard
Etta Schwarzauer
Idetta Schola
Didrika Regensperger
Sente Wüthrich
Amelia Saloman
Engelbertina Trostdorff
Adelina Köbner
Halifrid Rosemann
Idaia Halinburg

Fantastic, right!? However, I know many others find pleasure in creating names the old fashion way. Any tricks of the trade?

Also, below I have listed some related websites (not specific to name creation but they lean more towards creating characters in general).

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12 comments

  1. The name generator poses an interesting question. I think names are an important character’s attribute, (like his/her physical appearance, beliefs of any marks that life has caused like scars or wounds, which tells us something about the), so I have fun creating names the old fashioned way. On the other hand, I find it’s interesting to generate some names and see what you feel about them without knowing if they have a certain meaning or not, so I may try the generator some time and see what I come up with!
    Have a nice day!
    PS: I really like Etta Schwarzauer as a character name. She must be a pretty interesting person with a name like that ;-).

  2. I will use all sorts of resources, including baby name sites and the phone book. I had to find names for characters from ancient Sumeria and India for one project, so I dug through the web until I found some great collegiate research sites.

    I’m pretty particular about most of the names, but that tool could be a great source of inspiration, or useful for background characters that don’t have as much significance to the story.

  3. I found the name for one of my characters written in faded paint on the side of a building in Glasgow: Wm Grieve & sons. Whatever they had made or sold was gone. But William Grieve he was forever after that.

    1. I hope you took a photo. I used to live in a city’s abandoned warehouse district and I saw many faded names on buildings especially for long gone furniture upholsterers. What a unique find.

      1. Darn, I didn’t. Have to go back. I hope it’s still there. It’s right in the centre of the city – there are a few of the old signs in Edinburgh, including one on an old tenement building for a ‘specialist felt and straw hatter’, which cheers me immensely.

      2. Fantastic! In NYC, people barely look up from the sidewalk (I am super guilty of this) but if one takes a moment to raise their eyes, a lot of the buildings are very similar with faded signs. Once we have sun again, I’ll take my camera out and try to snap a few photos.

  4. Sounds very handy! Personally, I love taking the time to craft my own names for characters – or doing the research to find just the right one. For me, it’s part of the fun, but I can understand why others might find it tedious – and a generator like this is good on all counts, especially when it can get as specific and efficient as this.

  5. Thank you for the list. I use Scrivener but am yet to use the name generator. In the past I have used the credits on TV shows. I put a first name with a different last name and have come up with some good combinations. I’m OK with first names but for some reason my characters often refuse to tell me their last name.

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