Writers, do you research your characters name?

As a writer, I am always naming new characters. I usually don’t struggle too long before I pick one, often they come to me and I stick with them. Though lately, I have changed two character’s names after someone pointed out how the name connected to something that didn’t favor my character.

One question I hear when asking for help is, “Does the name have a special meaning?” It’s usually not something I take into consideration but maybe I should. I wonder how many writers do research before they name their characters. I looked at the meaning behind my name and found it was interesting.

Melisa – Bee (pronounced Mah-Lee-Sa)

Peterson – Rock or stone

Lewis – Reknowned or famous battle (this is my married name)

So I’m a busy bee, solid as a rock, and can put up a good battle when I need to. I guess that’s not too bad. It actually sounds very much like me.

When we named our children I didn’t put much stock in what the names meant as much as how they sounded to me. Choosing their names was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I waffled so many times, right up until the end. I’m more decisive with fictional characters apparently.

Have you looked up your full name? It might mean something heroic! If you are a writer do you put a lot of time researching your character’s name? What websites do you use?



  1. Peter- rock
    William- strong willed warrior.
    I guess that’s a pretty good reflection of myself! My last name I’m pretty sure has no meaning haha.
    I never really did research on my character names, I just went with what sounded right. But for my kids we definitely did lots of research!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s so true. We did so much research with our kids names, lol. My daughter also means warrior! I do little research on characters. Sometimes I watch the credits at the end of a movie and pull names from there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a good idea! If I’m looking for inspiration, I tend to search through history books for fitting names.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Adriana-Dark or of the Adriatic.
    Kathleen- derived from Katherine, meaning ‘pure’
    That is cool, I have never looked up my middle name!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know my name’s meaning extremely well, since I looked it up in middle school when deciding on character names for my first novel. (It’s essentially divinity and bitterness, which I think fits me well enough.) I used to look up my character names all the time, but now it’s something I only do if there isn’t a name that I think fits them on their own. I feel that makes it more realistic, since not everyone’s names are perfect matches to their personality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good way to look at it. Sometimes names come to me and I feel so good about them I would never change them. Other times I feel the first letter or a sound of a name, but can’t figure out what it should be without help. I wanted a J name for a character who was Spanish. I wanted to find something unique but not over the top. I found a good one online and went with it.


  4. Naming characters is one of my least favorite things to do (outside of naming locations), but can also be particularly exciting if I hit on a name I really like.

    For one-off characters, I don’t usually put much time in, because I hate to waste a good name on a character who will barely be seen. Though if that character ends up coming back, I’ve been known to change their name (I haven’t published anything yet, so I can still do this).

    For longer-term characters, I’m pretty choosy. My most tried-and-true method of picking character names is to go to behindthename . com (I put spaces in, just in case WP thinks all links mean spam) and do a search in the name meanings for words related to that character (or what I know of that character so far). That may be words related to their personality, their role in the story, or even just the word “son,” if the main thing I know so far is that they are the son of someone important. Sometimes I get something really helpful right away, sometimes I take a name that comes from this search and skew it a bit on my own, or sometimes I just start to follow rabbit trails of links and see where it leads me.

    I often put in placeholder names during the drafting, if I spawn an unexpected character or just didn’t have one named yet, so I don’t get slowed down while writing. One of my favorite side characters is named Glyn, because his placeholder name was Glen, and I eventually decided I liked it…but it just had to look a little less modern.

    Obviously this topic interests me, because I’ve struggled with it in the past. Sorry for the long reply!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m going to bookmark the website you mentioned. I read you shouldn’t name one off characters that don’t reappear, so I’ve been trying to do that so I don’t overwhelm the reader. I’m not published yet either, so learning ad I go on a lot of these things.


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