For many people, one of the easiest parts of their creative writing (novels/novellas/short stories/comic books, etc.) is coming up with the name of their main character. That name reflects their main character’s personality, traits, characteristics, and profession clearly.

Take the name “the Hunter” (from The Last Bucelarii series). It’s the perfect name for him given who he is and what he does (assassin who can kill anyone). Yet it’s also a nom de guerre, an assumed name. By calling him “the Hunter”, it drives home the fact that he doesn’t remember his real name or anything about his past. A no-brainer, right?

But what about all the ancillary characters? The thief creeping down the tunnel, the alchemist who gives the Hunter what he needs to track down the villain, or the villain’s henchmen? In any book, you easily have upwards of 20 to 30 named characters. They may not be important, but you have to come up with that name, right? Easier said than done, I often find.

Which is why I LOVE name generators!

Name generators give me a list of name ideas, most of which suck pretty badly. But there are always a few gems hidden among the dross, solid names that are perfect for whatever character I’m writing. I like to take parts of multiple names and mash them together, turning two iffy names into one good one.

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Here are a few of the name generators I like to use:

Fantasy Name GeneratorsHere, you can find names for just about everything: aliens, dwarves, bounty hunters, cat-people, trolls, Taurens, pegasi, Knights, hobbits, and the list goes on! Be warned, the names here often sound clich├ęd, but they can be a good jumping-off point.

Rinkworks This name generator spits out up to 50 names at a time, many of which are impossible to pronounce and not good enough. However, they’re perfect for my name mash-ups, and there is usually one or two solid names per generation.

DonJon This is one of the better fantasy name generators. The names here are pronounceable, and you can find pretty solid names for your characters.

Fantasy NameGen I like this name generator a lot. You have a lot of options for coming up with different types of names (Aztec, reptilian, Lovecraftian, Dwarven, etc.), and it spits out up to 20 names at a time–most of which can be used.

There are others (such as the name generators on Seventh Sanctum or Behind the Names), but these are the ones that work best for me.