This afternoon, I ran a workshop at Monash Library in Mount Waverley. We were having fun with the murder mystery writing prompt when one of the participants asked for suggestions for a name.
She had an idea of the character, and wanted a name that would have been from the 1800s. To help, we did a search and came up with a list of girls names from the 1800s and started reading them out. Part way through the list, a name stood out.
This is where I love baby name lists. Lists of baby names are common on the Internet. You can find name generators and forms where you enter details and it will spit out a name or two, however a list is something special.
Most lists of baby names are gender specific and list the most popular names that fit a particular criteria, usually a year. You can also find lists of unusual names, banned names, and names from different countries.
One advantage of a baby name list is that they can often help if you have a general idea of what you’re looking for, but not enough to use a name generator. Going through the list may spark an idea, or even help you narrow down on names. If you’re writing historical fiction, searching for names in a particular time period and scrolling through a list, you may find some names that you wouldn’t have thought of before. You may also find some names for minor characters, or even just some interesting names that could make their way into a story.
So, next time you’re looking for a name for a character, do a search for a relevant baby name list and have a browse. You never know what names may catch your eye.