How to find the name of your character

Comment trouver le nom de vos personnages

First name and last name of character…the headache ?


This week I’m going to speak to you ofa problem that affects almost all. A scourge that prevents you from moving forward, to write, in brief, to create…I began to speak (I think) of this problem in the article regarding the characterization of the characters and… procrastination. This scourge is none other than : the name of your characters ! How to find them ? Where ? Why is this important ? And how to properly choose according to your topic ?

These are all questions that I will answer today.

I’m not going to hide it, on the blog I get tons of synopsis, ideas and all in all it is a question, at one time or another, first or last names of one or more characters and it is normal !

Whether you’re writing a series, a feature film or a cartoon, that your hero is a human, alien or animal, it must have a name or/ and surname.


How to choose the right name ?

In a first time it should not be too much you break the head. Keep in mind that the most important thing to do is to successfully write your story, the structure in the outline so that you know exactly where you need to go.( See the Timeline). In this step the name of your heroes and your character is pretty important. But very soon you will fall into a downward spiral…find a name for your characters.


Why name your characters properly ?

I know that the last sentence of the last paragraph makes you laugh : “to Fall in a downward spiral” but be honest with yourself. How many times have you broken the head and the teeth on the first and last names of your characters ? Sometimes you find it right away, then a few days (minutes ?) or weeks later, you come back on your idea and change. Why ? Because, all of a sudden, either :

  • You find no
  • More suited to the character and his actions
  • You are afraid that it is no


And you fall into the procrastination the more total because you may not be able to move forward, both the name of your characters you are obsessed with it !

So why the name correctly ? As I said just above, it is necessary that the name of your character rings true. Just in this, that it is but also in what he does. I’ll take an example that everyone knows (or almost) MacGyver. It is a name that slap ! it reminds me of names such as James Bond or John Mclane…MacGyver…! Whouaaaouuu. For some time the question that remained unanswered was : “what is the first name of MacGyver “…I remember at the time the speculation was very good : John ? Robert ? Jack ? Mickael ?...I believe that if this had been one of those where I would have been disappointed. The first name of MacGyver is Angus ! ANGUS ! No, but I dream!!! I remember to have been disappointed also. At the bottom, no matter what first name I would just be disappointed, so long as this is an old first name. In fact, it is a name outside the norm for a character outside the norm. With the benefit of hindsight, the authors were really well chosen. In the end, the first name of the character is secondary. What the spectator retains is MacGyver.

So naturally I will talk to you about series or american film. But we are in France. That is to say, if your character is named Kevin, and well, for the viewer to French, it will not have the same resonance for an american ! It is sad but it is like that ! Moreover, je would like to present my apologies to Kevin for the following ;o)


I heard that a study has been made, there is little, on the equality of chances of finding a job, a name in the face of another name. (I put the article here )

Basically, Kevin is a name popular choice for parents from disadvantaged backgrounds. In the long term, to RESUME the same, the little Kevin will be between 10% and 30% less likely to find a job in the face of a Stone or Arthur !

This means that the choice of the name of your character will have a sexual connotation for the viewer, where the importance of the correct names.


First name, last Name + gender + location = Characterization


We have just seen above, the choice of the names of your characters will be a part of their characterization. It is, therefore, important to give a name according to their characteristic, and genre of your film and its geographical location. So be careful, the characterization of a character is not only thanks to or because of the name and the location, but it contributes to it.

For example, if your movie takes place in Africa but is the stage for a hero/ protagonist of France, there must be a difference between his name and the name of the characters he will meet on-site. Be careful though not to fall into the cliché. To help you here is a link that class names depending on the country.


Speaking of cliché that reminds me of the first Godzilla (with Jean Réno) where all the French the film is called : John, Jean-philippe, Jean-François, Jean-Marc, Jean-Edouard, Jean-Claude etc…But this was clearly done on purpose ;o)

So, once you have the sheet of your character, that you know where it comes from, social background, parents etc….what he does in life, and all the details of his life, then you can find him a first name and/ or name.

For example, if your character is called Kevin, and her father is American, his mother French and he lived the first 10 years of his life in the USA and he now lives in France, it works !


The name was obviously of paramount importance ! If it is from an affluent background he may very well have a particle genre : Nicolas de saint machin. Good I’m agree with you, it can quickly make a template. But there are names that sound more bourgeois than others.

The other important thing for most young people, or to the writers in the grass doped film US. There is no shame to call his characters : Arthur, Pierre, Ludovic, Abigail or Chloe ! Or : Vaillant, Lebrun, Laville, etc., to which names of families.


How to choose your first names it is necessary to take into account :

  • The social environment
  • The country
  • Of the source region of
  • The age of your characters
  • The genre of your film
  • The time

On this last point that I have not dealt, the genre is important. If you write a comedy, it may be that the choice of first and last names is important. These will contribute to the atmosphere and serve the purpose. If I take ” life is a long quiet river “, The name Gooseberry and Le Quesnoy, the two families are socially opposite, play in favor of the comedy. If this movie had been a drama in the name Gooseberry would have been different.

For the time it is the same thing. If your movie is set in 1930 : Andrew, John, Augustus will be more suitable as Kevin, Enzo or Theo ! So don’t hesitate to do a search on the net to find out what names were in vogue at the time. It is necessary to do the same research to you find the name in function of the age of your characters. A character of 45-year olds and a 19 year old, for a movie set these days, will not have the same choice of first names.


Originality kills originality and copying is not nice !

To want at all costs to find an original name, you may move to the side of your character , or make it ridiculous…even worse, you may lose your viewer. Just like to give him nicknames. Ditto, take the name of a fictional character that already exists is to forget. A quick search on the net will enable you to see if someone has already thought of…but I know that the youngest among you want to write a scenario because they think of the characters that they have loved in other movies and wish to re-borrow for ease, or to make a nod to their favorite movies. Find another name !

If you are like me and you like to know the meaning of the names, or if you want that, symbolically, the name of your characters wants to say something, I’m giving you a link on the etymology, in French, of names by region and by country ;o)


That’s it for this article : ” the name of the character,” Let me have your comments and your names of the characters ;o) at the bottom of the article.

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Thank you to those who will make it ;o) and that are already doing that ;o).


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Tom Weil


More articles on How to Make A Movie or Write a movie :

How to characterize your characters to be endearing.

Find out how you can boost your scenario with the point of view narrative

How to master the descriptions of a screenplay with stage directions

Create strong characters and memorable with the character sheets

Tips for overcoming procrastination

Simple method for give life to your characters


Here are the 10 steps you need to follow to write your screenplay-by-step

How should you present a scenario

Understand what is the treatment, a necessary step of a scenario

Master the presentation séquencier and its relevance to your scenario

Knowledge that you need to know to make movies

Introduction to the powerful way to write : the hero’s journey

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