What’s In A Name?

Creating the right name for every character

‘A rose by any other name, may smell as sweet,’ but what about our characters? Are all names the same? Can they be interchanged and still carry the same meaning and impact? Does a Fred give the reader the same impression as an Alfred? What kind of person do you picture with the name Marci, how about Mariamne, or Mary, or Meraera, or Malith?

Names have power in our stories. But how do we create the right name for every character?

When I first started writing, I bought a baby name book. When I created a new character I’d pick a letter I wanted the name to start with and then go through the pages looking at meanings and spelling variations until I found something to suit my character.

As time passed and I roamed the web more, I discovered a plethora of sites to find names. Most baby or new mom sites have a dedicated page for names. But I took my naming to the next level by choosing a name based on its meaning. Sites like the following are a small list of possibilities for search by the meaning.

name generatorIf you don’t want to waste hours on the net and have Scrivener, there is a name generator built in. You can to pick a name based on gender and nationality. (Edit > Writing Tools > Name Generator > )






I have also found some apps I enjoy: (these are free for Android, but they might be found for Apple as well—or something similar)

  • Name Generator
  • Fake Name Generator is fun. It will give you a name: First and last, along with an address, occupation, fake SSN, and a long list of other stats.

fake name generator

Since I write most of my books with a medieval feel, I have several sites bookmarked for Old English names. Here are some of my favorites.

I have also looked for names popular in the old west. More recently I Googled ‘most popular names in 19—’. When you know the age of your character you can get a feel for the names many parents were giving their children the same year as your character was born.

Here is another free app for fantasy names

  • Fantasy Name Generator. This one has an extensive list of possible fantasy characters to choose from, including: hobbits, elves, angels, dragon, dwarves, and a host of others.

By far, one of my favorite new finds as a fantasy writer is Donjon. You can create an entire world with this site. Each of the names below is link within site that leads to worlds of possibilities. You can name your characters, your world, and the locations in your world. There are occupations, population stats, maps, and diagrams. A person could spend days on this site—and never get a word written.


  • Fantasy Name Generator
  • Random Generator
  • Fantasy Calendar Generator
  • Fantasy World Generator
  • Medieval Demographics Calculator
  • Random Adventure Generator
  • Random Dungeon Generator
  • Random Inn Generator

Do you have any tried and true ways of naming characters? Share your insights and happy naming.

Michelle Janene Murray blissfully exists in the medieval creations of her mind most days. She published Mission: Mistaken Identity in 2015, helps edit the Inspire anthologies, and is working to expand her personal press to publish other authors.

The Ministry of Magazine Writing (Part 2)

Start Submitting Today

Christian Writers Market GuideDuring my interview with literary agent Steve Laube, he offered these final words of encouragement regarding the ministry of magazine writing:

“Try not to fall into the trap in thinking that magazines are the ‘minor leagues’ when it comes to writing. You can slave for years to write and publish a book and sell 5,000 copies. Or you can write one magazine article and reach 10,000 or more!”

As I mentioned in that interview, Steve spoke similar words to me in 2011. I took his advice and have had my work published in The Upper Room, Encounter and Devozine. The Lord used this hands-on-training to prepare me for an invitation to interview for a position as a contracted devotion writer, something I had never considered before my initial conversation with Steve.

By God’s grace, I now have the privilege of serving as a contributing writer through the ministry of Our Daily Bread. Starting in 2017, the Lord is going to be encouraging international readers through my small offerings of loving worship.

I’ve been blessed with a writing partner who also appreciates the ministry opportunities available for magazine writers. She’s had her stories featured in Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Junior. Talk about an amazing reach!

Steve’s wise advice has been proven true through our personal experiences. So, though we’re both working on book projects, we’re committed to scheduling time to work on projects for magazines.

If you’re not already submitting to magazines, I encourage you to prayerfully consider beginning your journey today.

Every writer’s voice is uniquely designed by God, and purposed to make a difference for God. But, He can’t use the words He gives us to write if we don’t place our offerings into His hands.

When you’re ready to reach readers through the ministry of magazine writing, you can start by investing some time researching the following reputable Christian publications. Each one pays and is open to unsolicited submissions.


The Upper Room serves millions in their international and interdenominational audience. Their daily meditations are printed in over 79 editions, translated into more than 38 languages and distributed in over 100 countries.

The Quiet Hour, a daily devotional published by David C. Cook, ministers to over 100,000 readers annually.

Today’s Christian Woman, a digital magazine with a powerful online presence, invites writers to share biblical perspectives with women regarding relationships, faith, and ministry.

SEEK, published through Standard Publishing, encourages adults in their walk with Christ and corresponds with topics in their adult Bible curriculum.

Devozine, which is published through The Upper Room, accepts submissions from teen writers, as well as writers who minister to youth.


Writers can minister to children ages 8-12 through Clubhouse Magazine, a Focus on the Family publication, and Pockets, distributed through The Upper Room. God’s love and truth can even be shared with children ages 3-7 through Clubhouse Jr., another magazine published through Focus on the Family.

These are just a few wonderful ministry opportunities for writers. The Christian Writer’s Market Guide (2015-2016), available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, is compiled by Jerry Jenkins and offers updated information on submission opportunities for magazines and more.

I’m looking forward to hearing what God does as you continue to hone your craft and prayerfully invite Him to expand your reach for His glory, through the ministry of magazine writing.

And in my next interview, Heidi Killion Gaul will share tips that led to her stories being published in eight Chicken Soup for the Soul books.


The links shared in this post were confirmed at the time this article was posted. Inspire Christian Writers is not responsible for changed links, publishers updating their writer’s guidelines, or the content posted the publisher websites.


Author Photo 2016 - INSPIRE ThumbnailXochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and deepen their personal relationships with God and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting Spring 2017. She’s been published in The Upper Room, ENCOUNTER, and Devo ‘Zine magazines, in Inspire’s Victory, Promise, and Forgiveness, and at  www.xedixon.com.