Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X Names

I have a problem with character names. Aside from wanting to name, like, every male character Dave (I don't even know why), I tend to lean towards certain letters of the alphabet. When you've got one book, it's not hard to keep track of your characters' names. Once you have a few books and stories under your belt, though, the characters can get confusing.

So, with 20+ stories to keep track of, I finally made a spreadsheet to organize it. And, 'cause I like making spreadsheets, I went detailed. A page for first names, a page for last names (to see what names have been used at a glance and if I've been favoring a letter above others), a page for minor characters who may only be mentioned once or twice by name or who get a scene and then are never heard of again, a page for locations, and a page to keep track of all the stories, color-coding them so I can tell at a glance which characters go together.

What does this have to do with the letter X? Well, if there's one thing I've noticed while working on this spreadsheet, there are some letters of the alphabet that just plain get ignored. A's, M's, J's, I use them plenty. N's, P's, even V's get some good name love. But X? Z? Q? U? Blanks, or almost blank, both for first and last names. They're uncommon and not exactly the first letters to spring to mind when you're trying to name someone (or drag a name out of them, as the case may be). So I'm looking for suggestions to make a sort of waiting list for names. If you have any suggestions for X, Q, U, and Z, I'm all ears.

And for anyone who's interested, I made a sample copy of the spreadsheet to share. Please take a copy for yourself!

Click here for the spreadsheet

I put in a few samples for each page so you can see how it all works. Feel free to delete them (but leave the color coding text. Believe me, it helps!)


  1. A spreadsheet for names is a good idea. I might have to start one myself to keep track of all my characters.

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

    1. I realized the link was all the way at the bottom and easy to miss. Please, help yourself to a copy of the spreadsheet I set up. I worked out the kinks so you don't have to. :)

  2. Xavier (he'd have to be French!), Ulf (Finnnish), Ursula, Quentin (posh), Quueenie (old fashioned, probably about 90) Zander (short for Alexander but used in its own right), Zak... If you look at family names they often have the same first letter or sound... Brian, Ian, Jude, James, Julia... Tara, Anna, Flavia. i love names! ~Liz

  3. What's in a name ... I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who has a problem with character names. I did one book with an Alexandria, one with an Aleksandar, and one with an Alexis. So it was with great reluctance that I was forced to change a fourth one from Alexandre - and that had really been the perfect name for him too.
    I really like your idea of a spreadsheet - thanks for sharing!
    Carol at My Writing Journal