View Full Version : Xmas presents

11-18-2004, 09:21 AM
Thought I might ask for useful books for a writer, including something with names - first and surnames. I struggle to name characters. Any suggestions?

11-18-2004, 09:34 AM
Well, this isn't a book, but if you're having trouble naming characters, here's a handy link that might help.

www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm (http://www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm)

I have other writer resources on my website. Feel free to stop by.



11-18-2004, 09:36 AM
Ask for books that can help you with research. What injuries are like and how police do their jobs and how marriages fail and how emergency rooms handle their workload and what different parts of the world look like.

Names you can find online. If you have a chance to get someone to buy you books, find a good research book and ask for it.


11-18-2004, 10:22 AM
I sympathize with your struggle for character names. I'm still living out of a suitcase far from home so I can't give you the correct titles and authors but on my shelves at home are some excellent books on names. Two are from Oxford University Press in their dictionary of... series. One is on Christian names and the other Surnames and they use those words in the titles. Then I have a Penguin (U.K.) Dictionary of Names and a very good book from the Writer's Digest press called - I think - 'Names from Around the World'. Like many of their books it's excellent. Try www.abebooks.com for second hand copies.

Writing Again
11-18-2004, 11:48 AM
This is always a good place to start.

20000 Names (http://www.20000-names.com/)

If your character was born in a specific time period and you'd like to know the popular names then.. go here (http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/)

Here is an interesting site. (http://teenwriting.about.com/od/characternames/)

11-18-2004, 12:41 PM
I've heard of this book, but never actually seen or used it myself. It's called "The Reverse Name Dictionary" (couldn't help with the author, sorry) but it lists names according to their meanings, rather than the way most dictionaries are written. So, if you want your character to have a meaningful name, it's easier to look up.

Writing Again
11-18-2004, 02:10 PM
"The Reverse Name Dictionary" (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/002-9596088-3901603)

11-18-2004, 02:17 PM
Yeah, ask for nonfiction texts. There are plenty of good ones out there.

11-18-2004, 02:18 PM
The phone book's always worked for me.

You can also ask someone who just had a child for their baby name book. Hopefully they won't need it again for a while.

11-19-2004, 02:07 AM
The Writer's Digest "Character Naming Sourcebook" is handy because it breaks names down be male and female, and by nationality.

It also includes advice on naming characters for Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mysterym etc., and advice for naming a settin

11-19-2004, 08:14 AM
Great! Thanks for the suggestions. The reverse naming book sounds perfect, but then, so does James's suggestion.

Until I get hold of them - thanks for the websites.

The reason I'm not so stressed about getting reference books is due to the great libraries I have close to home. I can always go look stuff up, but names - I hate not being able to just flick open a book, pick a name and continue with the writing.

Thanks all.


11-19-2004, 09:55 AM
One website I really like for names is Alphabet Zoope (http://www.zoope.com). It gives name origins and meanings, too. :)

Kempo Kid
11-19-2004, 12:03 PM
The New Age Baby Name Book. Covers names that are a lot more interesting than the run of the mill Scott and Jennifer types. (Apologies to Scott and Jennifer. :D )

11-20-2004, 12:00 PM
I hate not being able to just flick open a book, pick a name and continue with the writing

I can't do this, even with a ton of resources for names. Most of my characters are named for people I know, but when I actually have to pick a name, I believe it takes longer using a book. There are so many names with so many meanings and sounds that picking and choosing can be tough.

Do I want an Irish name? Maybe English? Or, wow, some of these Greek names are neat. And how many syllables should it have? Two for the first and one for the last? Or the other way around? And, wait, I already have a name that starts with a K, so I probably shouldn't use that one.

If I want the perfect, and slow, name, I grab for a book. If I want quick I just pick one out of the air and go on.

Kempo Kid
11-21-2004, 01:19 PM
Sure picking a name out of the air takes less time. But the book helps me get the RIGHT name.

11-21-2004, 05:48 PM
Do you ever just "hear" your characters' names when you're writing? At the risk of being considered weird (and believe me, no one here will be the first to do that), I hear them most of the time. I've had to change a few names due to alliteration, but those were minor characters. What's funny is to find out later--midway through the book for instance--the name has related connotations I never intentionally pursued when I started the story. Now some will call this serendipity, but it's happened enough times that I'm well beyond believing the process is purely coincidental.


James D Macdonald
11-21-2004, 09:04 PM
If it works for you, it works.

Me, I give my characters nonce-names in the first draft, then go through after I've gotten to know them better and give them their real names.

But that's just me.

11-21-2004, 11:08 PM
Sure picking a name out of the air takes less time. But the book helps me get the RIGHT name.

Yep, there is that. But for me, the right name is really just a matter of getting the nationality right. I'm not a writer who spends any time worrying about whether or not a name is "right."

I tend to prefer characters who have names like all the people I meet in daily life. I've always believed that, just like in life, it's the person who makes the name, not the name that makes the person.

Kempo Kid
11-22-2004, 12:06 PM
I write fantasy, so names like George, Bill, and Susie just won't cut it.

And the people I meet every day tend to have American names, but I don't necessarily want all my characters to have American names. So if I want an Indian or Japanese or Russian name, a book is the best bet.

11-23-2004, 06:03 AM
So if I want an Indian or Japanese or Russian name, a book is the best bet.

I tend to use online newspapers for the country of choice for such names. It gives me current and common names for the country.