top of page
  • Writer's pictureKim

GUEST POST: How to Choose a Character's Name in 27 Simple Steps by Katie Henry

Hi guys! Happy Friday! I have a seriously awesome guest post for you today! Katie Henry, fellow Electric 18 and author of HERETICS ANONYMOUS, is here to help us with one of the most troublesome aspects of writing: coming up with character names! I don't know about you, but this is something that gets me every time! It was seriously easier to name my own kids than to name my characters! HA! Katie's post will not only make you chuckle, but it also captures the utter ridiculousness that all writers face when trying to come up with character names!

Take it away, Katie! :)

How to Choose a Character’s Name in 27 Simple Steps by Katie Henry

  1. Take out the dog-eared, 1980s-era baby name book you’ve had for ages.

  2. Flip to their list of “trendy” names. Laugh. Internally ponder whether anyone’s still naming their baby “Chad.”

  3. Think about how you’ve been using this same baby name book since you were twelve and writing self-insert Harry Potter fanfiction.

  4. Remember that one time your algebra teacher saw you reading the book, made a joke about you being pregnant, and then got offended that you were offended.

  5. Choose a name. Wonder if it’s an appropriate choice for a character born in 2002.

  6. Have a brief breakdown over the fact that your character was born in the 21st century

  7. Abandon the baby book and take to the internet.

  8. Immediately pull up eighteen tabs worth of names, most of which are inappropriate for your chosen time period or setting.

  9. Choose a name. Realize it’s too close to your own name and people will think you’re a narcissist.

  10. Choose a name. Realize it’s a name your cousin preemptively claimed for her first child.

  11. Choose a name. Realize it’s the name of a kid you had a crush on in middle school.

  12. Take a break to stalk your former crush on at least three social media platforms.

  13. Discover that they now live on an anarchist compound in the woods.

  14. Google “weirdest names.”

  15. Disappear into a three-hour Wikipedia black hole involving linguistics, the Great Vowel Shift, and 17th century Puritan baby naming trends.

  16. Emerge determined to name your firstborn son Tribulation and your firstborn daughter Zeal-For-The-Lord.

  17. Choose a name. Decide that name is too flowery.

  18. Choose a name. Decide that name is too harsh.

  19. Choose a name. Discover that it’s also the name of a serial killer/war criminal/teenage millionaire YouTube personality whose show is just a collection of borderline offensive comments about women and unnecessary jump cuts.

  20. Announce to your significant other/pet/dying houseplant that you’ll just invent a name! Authors do it all the time! Shakespeare made up the name Jessica and now you know like, fifteen Jessicas!

  21. Grudgingly concede you are not Shakespeare, though you both enjoy inserting inappropriate puns into otherwise dramatic scenes.

  22. Choose a name. Google it. Discover it literally translates to “swamp dweller.”

  23. Choose a name. Google it. Discover it’s also a kind of tapeworm.

  24. Choose a name. It perfectly captures your character’s personality, ethnicity, and age. None of the top 10 search results are in reference to a murderer. It is flawless.

  25. Rejoice!

  26. Realize you have to choose a last name.

  27. Weep.


Katie Henry is a New York-based author and playwright. She grew up in

Berkeley, California, a city with good weather, great food, and passionate politics. In addition to novels, Katie writes plays for young audiences and received her BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her debut contemporary YA novel, HERETICS ANONYMOUS, releases in August 2018 from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins.


HERETICS ANONYMOUS (August 7, 2018 from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins)

Michael is an atheist. So as he walks through the doors at St. Clare's--a Catholic school--sporting a plaid tie, things can't get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. To his surprise, he finds one in Lucy, an outspoken feminist who is not only Catholic...she wants to be a priest.

Lucy introduces Michael to a group of other St. Clare's outcasts who call themselves Heretics Anonymous. After an incident in theology class, Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school's hypocrisies one stunt at a time. But when Michael takes one mission too far, putting the other Heretics at risk, he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom, or to rely on faith--whatever that means--in God, his friends, or himself.


Thank you so much, Katie! This definitely brought a smile to my face and made my laugh! I hope you guys enjoyed this as much as I did! And seriously, why IS it so hard to name our own characters?

Just one of life's mysteries, I guess!

I hope you guys have an awesome day and a fabulous weekend! Until next time, folks!

Featured Posts
bottom of page