How do you come up with fictional names for your characers?

I’ve never posted on this forum before, but recently I started working on a WIP. It has been mostly smooth sailing, but I’m having a really hard time thinking of names for my characters. The WIP is set in a fantasy world, and the main characters live in a country loosely based on ancient Rome. I want their names to sound vaguely Roman but still be unique and original. All the names I come up with sound really dumb. I tried using a fantasy name generator, but the names it gave me were really generic and not what I was looking for.

How do you guys come up with fantasy names for your characters when you’re writing? Do you have a process or does it come naturally? If you have any insight please share it.

1 Like

Usually it takes me forever lol. I have to put the character in different scenes in my head and keep going until a name feels right. Sometimes I’ll check out those name generators and try to modify those names if possible to make a cooler sounding one.

1 Like

You can try browsing Ancient Rome’s famous figures and get a sense of what or how their name is constructed. You can also get latin-eng translator and do the good ol’ ways “I name as what I hope they’ll become.”

Coincidentally, one of my setting takes place on Roman-Empire-inspired empire. Granted, I’m yet to name any characters I have but few, but these are the approach I used to name them.


Well I go off of who, what and where my characters are. I research names that make sense for a time and place and then take whatever I fancy as a good name. If it is fantasy based on some past culture
I try to pick real names that would make sense appearing in that culture. Just not super commonly thought of names if I still want the foreignness of fantasy feel. So having a Marcus, or Julius or Julia showing up probably aren’t great choices for you.

If I’m straight up concocting names then I use two rules. One it has to be pronounceable. Unless its supposed to be incredibly alien. The second rule is that it can’t be a goofy way of spelling a common name or look like it’s intended to be an odd spelling of a name. It never looks unique it looks silly,
I hope any of this helps.


I’ve used Behind the Name as inspiration for years. I tend to start with figuring out a culture to use as a base and then go through their database to help find sounds and structures that fit the feeling I’m going for. Even then I usually have to come up with a lot of generic, unnatural names before I start hitting ones that click. It just takes some time.


I agree with @Szaal. Start with Roman names and Latin words as the base – that’s how I usually do it, too. It might be a good idea to start with one character who has relatives or is famous enough in-world that others in that setting would want to “copy” that name for their children. So sort of like how Sandy, Alexandria, Xander, etc. all come from Alexander. Also, another good reason to start with Roman names is that you get an understanding of what was important to the Romans.

You could also copy and play around with the naming conventions of Rome – so one son would be named after the father, the other their grandfather, etc.; sons would have three names, daughters would be named after their family name, that sort of thing.

1 Like

Usually I try to pick names that just sound like something that character in particular would have, but sometimes I pick a name and get attached to it, but come to love another name at the same time.

I often end up picking the name that sounds nice yet feels awkward, because it feels for genuine that way.

1 Like

Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply. I think I’ll try what @medusatree, @Szaal and @expectedoperator and do some more detailed research on Roman name structure, naming conventions, etc and see if I can figure something out.

Fantasy name generator is pretty good, it has probably hundreds of name from different cultures and hundreds of fantasy names. Link

I have apps that hel with both fantasy and non fantasy names, besides this I just look into sites containing names.

It doesn’t go too much into naming conventions (probably just a page or so), but A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome by Alberto Angela might be useful if you’re researching Rome in general.

1 Like

I usually just go to some random name generator, generate like a shit-ton of names and then let my own creativity build upon that.

I copy author names in library then moosh the names I like and bring them all together. Some sound weird some sound okay.

Playing DnD,being into LARP and Warhammer 40k usually gives me a good pool of names to draw from for the Fantasy/Sci-Fi novels. The more realistic ones i tend to stick with 2 or 3 set names i use.