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Names do more than just provide a way for us to refer to our characters. They convey personality, place, history, socio-economic status, ethnic background, and even a character’s age. They give characters power.

Some characters, like Curley’s wife, in of Mice and Men, never get names and instead remain powerless throughout the story.

To play with the idea of names, go grab a phone book and flip it open to the white pages. Shut your eyes and point to a name, any name. Write that name down on the top of a piece of paper and start writing.

Who is this person? What’s their personality? Age? Background? What is this person doing right now?

When you’re done, look at your character sketch. Does the name “fit” the character you’ve created? If not, why not? What name would work better?

In the comments below, share the name of your “phone book” character. Is this a character you could use in a story?