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The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook
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The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  364 ratings  ·  35 reviews
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Character NamesBack in print and better than ever, "The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook" has been updated and expanded to help you find character names and their meanings quickly and easily!

This one-of-a-kind resource was specifically designed with the writer in mind. Inside you'll find:

25,000+ first names and surnames, and their
Hardcover, 486 pages
Published May 21st 2005 by Writer's Digest Books (first published February 1st 1994)
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There are lots of interesting names and name meanings in here. For intance, did you know Lolita is a form of Charles in Spanish, and means "manly"? And Humbert is Teutonic for "shining support". I reference these two character names because--given the nature of the characters--the meaning of their names seems odd. I'm left to wonder if Nabokov was aware of the meanings of the names he chose for his principle characters, or if he just liked the way they sounded.
One thing I did not like about this
This book is extremely comprehensive and excellent for seasoned and aspiring writers. The listing by ‘cultures’ is extremely helpful for reference by what writers are actually writing about. It tells you where the names came from and their meanings making choosing a name all that much more fun and appealing.

AND you could also use it for potential baby names!

Also on
Amy Kline
The cover looks a bit different, but if this book is the same one I have, it's a great resource for a writer who thinks way too hard about naming characters (like me). In it, names are categorized by cultures. I say "cultures" because it is not limited to modern day nations. It lists old names, new names, surnames, and even goes so far to suggest what sort of a character the name should be given to. It's both extremely useful and informative!
Meh. Not worth it. The advice was really generic and the lists are not very extensive or very useful, in my opinion. If you want help naming your fictional characters you'd be better off looking at a few baby name books that talk about context as well as meaning (like Linda Rosencrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran's books) and, most importantly, using the internet.
Karen Docter
LOVE this book! I have several quality baby naming books to help me choose character names. However, this one also include bane. Already used this one several times!

I recommend to every writer I know!
An excellent resource book for genealogy research, character naming, children, etc. The author includes various Internet sites where you can cross-reference a selection as she is careful to mention mistakes are often made in naming. The book is separated into three parts:

Part 1: The Craft of Naming
- Neat (short) section with some wonderful ideas for each genre; includes naming places, settings, animal names, etc. Also, some clever "setting" ideas--other than naming.

Part 2: The Lists
- Wow!
- In
I am not sure what I expected from this book but this was different. Kenyon gives us two chapters on the art, philosophy and skill of naming fictional characters. The rest of the many chapters are a resource for the names, meaning of names, and naming practices of numerous nationality and peoples (such as Celtic and Anglo-Saxon). Chances are any given writer will use only a handful of these chapters, but it is a very good resource.
Oct 18, 2010 Kathleen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fiction writers
Recommended to Kathleen by: Writer's Digest
Shelves: reference
I am keeping this book on the shelf closest to my computer so it's always ready to roll whenever I want a fresh name for one of my characters. I like that there are numerous ways to look up names, and a good index. I own the first edition, and have checked out the second edition at the library -- it's even more amazing than the first edition. I still also use baby name books, but this is my main source for names.
Handy for writers and just plain interesting to browse through. The book lists names by culture of origin and gender, and provides the meaning of each name. This is handy for all fiction genres, periods, and places, but I find it especially helpful for naming SF characters so that they don't all end up sounding like Midwestern Americans.
And as a bonus, you could use it to name your baby, too!
At first, I was going to write this off as a derivative, unimaginative bill payer from largely commercial writers (many of the contributors write mass market romance, fantasy and mystery novels.) But the tips and tricks in here seduced me. Also, it became obvious after reading a few of their thoughts that the authors who contributed here put a lot of thought into their 'process.'
This is an excellent resource for character names, sectioned off by ethnicity. If you write historical fiction or are looking for a specific type of name (Irish, German, French, Native American), this guide will gives you not only a list of common names for each ethnicity but also provides some insight to the naming conventions used by each. Highly recommended.
Wonderful reference book for naming characters. Includes a "reverse lookup" index where the names are sorted according to meaning. Throughout the bulk of the book, names are categorized according to culture/country and divided into female names and male names. There are short tidbits throughout about different authors and how they pick names for their characters.
T.M. Carper
The best naming resource I've come across. I'm very glad I bought it. It separates names by ethnic origin (Greek, Irish, Latin, Russian, etc.), has several useful indexes, and includes some last names. I've never come across a naming guide with last names in it. I use it all the time and I highly recommend it to anyone working on a novel.
This book is extremely helpful for a writer. For naming character's you are either forced to look on the internet(which most of the time can just be useless crap), or get a baby naming book (Oh joy, especially if you are checking it out at the library and you are under 18). This book is helpful if you want to know the origin of the names.
Nicole Galloway-Miller
A must-have for any fantasy writer. A great resource when it comes to developing names for people and places in fantasy worlds. I open to a random page, pick an interesting name and start rearranging the letters until I get something that will work. I couldn't live without this reference book. Thank God, Writer's Digest printed it.
The best book for naming I have ever found, far and away better than picking up a book of baby names. You can get baby name information on the internet, but the layout of this book and the way it presents information is perfect for writers, making it worth the purchase.
This book of names and their meanings is an invaluable resource. But it shouldn't be your only resource for naming characters. The writer proceeds on a simple alphabetical order within each ethnicity, with no regard for whether it is a given name or a family name.
This is by FAR one of the best writer's sourcebooks I've ever used. It has an absolutely FANTASTIC breakdown of every name you could ever think of. By ethnicity, popularity by year from 1880 on, alphabetical index and by meaning. Freaking fantastic.
Caleigh Cohen
Euro-centric, but within those limits it was quite helpful. I would have preferred more practical info on namees, such as common nicknames or which classes used which names. The book is most helpful for naming slightly-above-walk-ons.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Jun 20, 2011 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by: Seanan McGuire (blog)
As a starting point this is an impressive reference. But I don't think it should ever be the end point unless you are just refreshing your own memory. I also felt that the front matter could have used more material.
This is a great reference book for any serious writer. I used the book often to find names for characters in my "1,000 Words or Less" collection of short stories.
This is a good reference to have for all writers who write scripts, short stories or novels. It's updated and have new name lists, handy for all. (I also have the first edition too.)
Tina Marie (Highlandress)
This is very usefull for finding character names. I love that it is easy to find names for the countries you are looking for. I love it!!!!
Cynthia Sims
Jan 24, 2010 Cynthia Sims marked it as to-read
A friend just gave me a boatload of encouraging writing books. I could cry. Ask if you want to borrow any.
This book is a great help for those who like to write but aren't too sure what to name their characters.
Anne Marshall
An interesting book full of name origins and how other novelists name their characters.
Nicole Engard
The Writer's Digest character naming sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon (1994), 1st ed
Leah Good
My family laughs at me because I read this book like a novel. Great resource.
Lots of great names, and I like the randomizing factor.
Brenna Asg
A very useful book for names. I refer to it often.
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New York Times and international bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon is a regular at the #1 spot. With legions of fans known as Menyons (thousands of whom proudly sport tattoos from her series and
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