The Struggle of Naming Book Characters

Ashley Amber
2 min readJan 17, 2021

Name Generators. Baby Name Websites. Irish Surnames.

Do any other writers have an incredibly difficult time coming up with names for their characters?

I can never use a name that reminds me of basically anything. Sometimes the perfect name just comes to me, but other times I need to do a lot of searching! Because Kelly is my mother and Steve was my boss and Nicole was my arch enemy in elementary school…

See my problem?

Another disadvantage I sometimes have is the fact that my story takes place in Ireland, so I always feel most of my characters need Irish names, or at least Irish surnames.

Every once in a while, I’ll name a character after the person I imagine them as, at least to an extent. For instance, I’ve imagined one of my characters looking and acting like actress Maura West, so I decided to just name her Maura.

Another character, I’ve made no secret that the dream is for Rick Springfield to play in the movie/TV show of my book series, but this character never felt like a Rick. I eventually decided to name him Eli, after Springfield’s character Eli Love on General Hospital.

There’s another character of mine who was once nameless, until I had an epiphany. Every week when I’d go to the grocery store, they’d page a “Mr. Daugherty” over the loudspeaker. I liked the name Daugherty so much that it became the sole name of my most eccentric character.

But one name I’ll never use is my own name. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my name, but there’s only one Ashley. 😉

So, how do you find inspiration for names? Are there any names you think have been overused in books? And have you ever flat-out used your own name?

P.S. The names of the four main characters in my manuscript are somewhere in that jumble. Think you can guess them?