Friday Five: Name Generation

Friday FiveCiao, SEers.

My turn for a Friday post has rolled around again. This week’s topic is a list of five… anythings. I’ve chosen a topic that writers spend a lot of time on.

Name generation.

Below is a list of five places I get ideas for naming people, places, or things. (I have more, but I’m only allowed five.)

  1. TV/movie/play credits.
    You’ll be hard pressed to find a bigger list in one place (except maybe a phone book, and not many of us have those anymore). I never use a full name (the same person’s first and last) but I have no problem taking a director’s first name and a costumer’s last name and putting the two together.
  2. Sports rosters.
    If you follow me on any social media platform, you probably know I’m from the Pittsburgh area and am a huge fan of the Steelers, Penguins, and even the not-doing-so-well Pirates. Athletes have great names, and they come from various nationalities. (For example, you can find a lot of Eastern European, Swedish, and French names in hockey—like  Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, and Mario Lemieux, respectively.) Once again, I don’t take a whole name, but I might mix and match or use a last name with a first from somewhere else.
  3. Cemeteries.
    When I go to pay my respects to departed loved ones, I always take the time to look around. It’s interesting to note the changes in name trends throughout the years, and if you’re writing a historical, old graveyards are great places to look. Again, I wouldn’t use a full name of someone, but combine one person’s first and another person’s last.
  4. Musicians.
    I have to admit, I got this one from Supernatural. When the guys pretend to be FBI agents while they investigate murders, they frequently use the last names of classic rock band members (like Agents Plant and Page). I wouldn’t put two recognizable rock star names in the same book (unless maybe I was doing a campy music-themed story), but cherry-picking names works just fine.
  5. Name Generators.
    Yeah, this is a given (like baby name sites). I only mention it because I want to share one of my favorites with you, Mithril & Mages. It not only generates people names, it generates cities, businesses, places, and genre-specific options from under the “Name Generator” tab. If you click the other tabs, it’s even more specific, giving options as detailed as medieval, fantasy, cyberpunk, job titles, diseases, and a lot more.

So there you have it: five places to come up with names for the characters (and other things) in your stories. I listed five of my favorites. Now it’s your turn. Share some of your favorite resources in the comments below.

Staci Troilo Bio

33 thoughts on “Friday Five: Name Generation

  1. My four main characters kind of just came to me as I was researching the background biblical story that I was going to morph into my own. 😉 Sofia came from a play that focused on Lucifer’s love affair with the angel Sophia. Ar’ch, Angel, and Rafael are actually the name of one being – Archangel Raphael. I split it into three different people so that the prophecy that I created could merge them together to protect Sofia. 🙂 The other names took a bit more thought. I researched names that were used during the time period of their births and then kind of just listened to my gut. Lol! 😉


    • I love the way you did a three-in-one for their names. That’s a great idea.

      I actually have a book with names of hundreds of angels. I don’t know whether it’s accurate, given there aren’t many named angels in the Bible, but it was handy when I was picking angel names for Love Set in Stone.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. To me, naming characters is one of the most fun parts of writing. Sometimes the names just fall out of the sky and sometimes I seek them out. All the places you mentioned are great resources, Staci. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m big on sports rosters, and browse MLB for names all the time. I keep an old program from my daughter’s graduation that I’ve mixed and matched from too. Two different trips I intended to bring home a New Orleans phone book, but failed both times. I’ll have to check out the site you mentioned. It sounds pretty helpful.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Love your list, Staci. I thought I had used Mithril and Mages but I use a different name generator site that does basically the same thing. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of it and have the link saved on a different computer. You can’t have too many of these things, so I’m adding the M&M site to my bookmarks. Looks awesome!

    I’m like Joan in that I also keep a list of names on my phone. One thing I do as an extra precaution–when I come up with a main character name, even secondary characters–I Google the name. I remember one time I had inadvertnely chosen a name that belonged to a pro basketball player. Since I don’t follow basketball, I never would have known that without Google. I Ididn’t want the association and renamed my character.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Great tips, Staci! I generally pick a first name that seems to “fit” the character (usually whatever pops into my head first when I think about the character). I’ll often do some research for surnames for ethnic/regional accuracy. Such as central MN having a LOT of surnames of Norwegian, Swedish, and German origin, such as Olson, Swenson, Johnson, Anderson, Ericson, Schultz, Schmidt, (and all spelling variations thereof),etc. If the character is of a particular ethnic background, such as various East Asian countries (think China, Japan, Hmong), I’ll pick out appropriate surnames (like Wu or Ngygen, etc). Problem is, no matter where I dig around for names (another great place to find names:, it’s like a rabbit hole. So many interesting names, so little time!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’ve used Mithril and Mages. I have more trouble coming up with names for places and businesses. As far as character names, I keep a list of names on my phone I encounter in the course of my job and day to day life. Like you, I mix up first and last names. Then again, whatever character name we use, there’s bound to be someone in the world with the same name.

    Other times, names just come to me. One thing I don’t use is Scrivener’s name generator. Not sure what the creators of that software were thinking, but unless someone writes fantasy or steampunk, the names are ridiculous!

    Liked by 4 people

    • You probably come across a lot of names at your day job. That’s a great idea. The Mithril and Mages site has business options, which I have used in the past to decent success. I’ve definitely used the site for bodies of water.

      I agree with you about Scrivener’s name generator. I thought having it there was such a good idea. Figured I wouldn’t have to leave the program when I needed a secondary character’s name. I don’t know where they got their database, but I found the names completely unusable. To the point of frustrated laughter.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. What a great resource, Staci. I’m always looking for names and will add Mithril & Mages to my list. I usually ask Google for names and see what different sources/ideas come up. I like that your fave gives place names, etc., too. Have a great weekend 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links – Staci Troilo

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