How do you develop and decide on names for characters?


First, decide if you’re usually going to refer to this character by their first name, last name or some other nickname. In GO, Ronna and Claire are always referred to by their first names, whereas Gaines and Singh are last names, while Tiny and Junior are nicknames.

Once you’ve decided which part of the name is most important, pick one that sounds appropriate to the character. How you choose that name is up to you. Some people use baby names books or the telephone directory. For some reason, I name a lot of characters after streets in my neighborhood. If you’re really stuck, Final Draft has a names database that can be helpful in a pinch. However you find the name, it should start with a different letter than any other name in the script, just to avoid reader confusion.

Now pick a first or last name to go with it. Often, I’ll just pick a letter at random and start sounding out names until I find one that seems to work. As a final check, I always rack my brain to see if I remember anybody else with that name. It’s creepy how often I’ll end up with somebody I already know.