Playing The Name Game

So how do authors come up with the names of characters in their books, or the actual title of the book itself?

Title Names

Titles usually lend themselves to genre research, or what titles are selling best on the big distributors. Titles in a series usually follow a theme such as my wife, Liliana Hart’s MacKenzie Series – Need, Crave, Scorch, etc. to name but a few.



Character Names

There is no one formula for the character names though. Some writers use combinations of family and friend names. Others use pets names, or maybe the name they would’ve given to a child.

Names are important for a character. They can plant an everlasting image in your mind without one descriptive word written. Think of Dudley DoRight for example. Any more character description needed?

When I began developing concepts for my new series, I wanted a main character to run the entire series. They’d have a dynamic supporting cast, but make no mistake, this guy was Da Man.

Liliana and I were cleaning out old stuff at my dad’s house one day. I found a pair of Joe Boxer briefs in a drawer of college era clothes and basically other junk I thought was worthy of saving some 30 years ago.

It hit me

Joseph. No, just Joe. Joe who? Joe Boxer, that’s who. Yeah, Sergeant Joe Boxer.

I didn’t even have the concept focus in mind much less plot, arcs, and action. That name carried a clear image of who he was and what he did.

Immediately, Sergeant Joe Boxer wrote the story for me. The first novel (not yet released) exploded in my mind. Within about a month and a half, I’d completed over 90,000 words of what only the Sarge could’ve accomplished.

He’s still in charge of book two in the series, and I can assure you that he remains the kick-ass action / adventure star who first popped into my head while sharing old college adventure stories with my wife.

You just never know, but you do learn to allow space. You might just be surprised who shows up in there.

Your Turn

What are some of your favorite character names?



  1. My downfall! I can write the whole book without ANY NAMES AT ALL – my most popular story PASSAGE had NO NAMES – people made up their own! Now I let a name run around in my head and just grab it as for book titles – I write novellas (regency) and mostly use the heroine’s name with a flower on the cover (the flower from my garden) – the series is branded on flowers. My cop series – a lot of crime scene tape and the occasional piece I find on Shutterstock – I know it when I see it. So far– people love the covers. I can experiment later.

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