Linda Maye Adams

Finding Last Names for Your Characters


One of the hardest things for me has been finding last names.  First names are easy.  If you have a baby name book or access to a baby name website, first names are easy.  People are always looking for names for their babies, so these are readily available.  But the last name has to fit the first name, and if you’re doing a setting in a specific location such as Los Angeles, the name has to kind of fit the area.

Obituaries provide a wealth of names, and they’ll have the local flavor perfect for a story.  Just make a list of names that catch your eye maybe once a week or so.  You probably don’t want to do more than that because some newspapers like the Washington Post will publish the same obituary for several days.  You might want to scan the other days for nicknames also, since you’re going to find the more unusual nicknames that way.  Some of the ones I’ve found:  Buffalo, Wrap-A-Round, and Yogi.

 

2 Comments

  1. I’ve never thought of looking at obituaries! Thanks for the tip.

    I normally just google the most common surnames in my character’s country of origin and then pick one that fits well with the first name. However, that normally ends with my character’s names being that country’s equivalent of ‘Smith’ or ‘Brown’.

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    • I’ve been surprised at how many more unusual ones I find in the obits. It helps keep the names interesting!

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