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Is a name just a name when it comes to naming characters? Admittedly, characters can be named on a whim and given any personality you see fit to align them with and that works fine too.

While strumming fingers across the keyboard as you sit for hours playing your story out with everything flowing and events falling in place—enters a new character. This is a kick-ass character, who acts first and asks questions later. A tough guy/gal wreaking havoc and bringing the chaos as soon as they enter a room. The only thing you have to do now is give them a name. You think fast, spouting off common ones…Cindy, Tom, Henry, Bob and John and Jane with a dog named Spot.

Sure, these are all fine names, but you want your tough character to have a name that fits his/her personality. I wouldn’t pick Brutus either. Sometimes you’ll read about the character named Tiny, who stands six feet tall for a more comedic feel. As writers we can sit stuck, rolling different names off the tongue and adding words to the mix to come up with that perfect match.

Quick fix, let’s say you are writing about gangsters and their families—change John to a stronger name like “Johnson.” Jane might be fine for a gangster’s wife, but they won’t have a dog named Spot. Try Spike or Sampson.

I personally named one of my MC’s Lena after Lena Headey (you know from the movie 300). I could have used her character’s name Queen Gorgo, but that wouldn’t fit in the modern day setting…unless she was reincarnated as that ancient queen. I envisioned Lena being strong like Queen Gorgo, a strong wife and mother and given enough power, she could crush her enemies with one look.

The name Linx was chosen for her son’s name because of Lena’s strength as a single mother in the world alone. And it was only fitting that she would give him a rebel-sounding name.

For my Temptress, she needed a sexy, but to the point name and what’s more to the point than Allura? For my Under Earth characters in Hades’ realm, I could get way more imaginative with names as they were ancient. Lutarus is the Chief Tomber for Hades.

Giving characters the perfect name will also aid in keeping their story behavior in check. Your tough guy isn’t going to say, “You wanna fight me?” He’s going to start pounding on the guy because he asks questions later.

How do you give your characters names character?