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“How do you pick your characters names?” My readers ask me this question ALL the time. And with uniquely named characters like Billy Jack, Flossie, Cullen and Essie, I guess there is a good reason for their curiosity.

My first step in choosing names is to do a little research. Luckily, I have the perfect way to get started. Awhile back, I got my hands on some old yearbooks from the early 1900s. Whenever I’m needing some inspiration, I comb through them to find names that were actually used when my characters were alive. When it comes time to pick out the name, I always go for a first and last name combination that has a nice ring to it, paints a picture of the type of personality I’m working to create, and is memorable for my readers. (I never choose both the first and last name of a real person, though, no matter how much I might like it. It would be just my luck that a descendant recognizes the name and emails me!)

Once I have my character names picked out, I write them down in my big writing journals (remember those?) to keep for future reference. This is incredibly helpful when I think I’ve picked out my new character’s name, but need to make sure it’s not too similar to a previous one. For example, if I had a character named Essie, I wouldn’t add a different character named Ellie. 

And that’s my recipe for creating character names. It takes just a little bit of research, some creativity and a pinch of recordkeeping. Which character’s name is your favorite so far? I know I’ve got mine, but I’d love to hear yours! Leave me a comment on my Facebook page or tweet me at @DeeanneGist!