I thought I’d start a new series where I post some Scrivener Quick Tips every 6 weeks. These posts will show you how to use one small but very handy feature of Scrivener. Today’s Scrivener Quick Tips are about using the Name Generator to come up with great names for your characters.

I love the Name Generator because sometimes I find character names difficult. I scan my bookshelves, I scroll through all the names in my mind, but nothing seems quite right. With the name generator, I can quickly produce a list of names that I would never have thought of myself. Sometimes they’re crazy names but I always find one that’s perfect.

I’ve made a quick, 5 minute video showing you how to use the Name Generator but I’ve also described how to use it in the post below so you can take your pick of ways to learn!

Here’s the video, or scroll down for the written explanation:

How Do I Find the Name Generator?

  1. Go into the Edit menu in Scrivener
  2. Scroll down to Writing Tools
  3. Scroll across to Name Generator

These 3 steps will take you straight into Scrivener’s Name Generator. See the image below for more details.

 

How Do I Choose the Kind of Name I Want For My Character?

The first thing you do is click on the wheel button in the bottom right of the dialogue box that appears. This will bring up a second dialogue box, which is the box on the right that you can see in the image below.

In this dialogue box, you can tell Scrivener what kind of name you want. You can select from:

  1. Male, female or either
  2. If you want alliteration i.e. the first and last names to begin with the same letter
  3. If you want a double-barrelled surname

If you already have a first name in mind for your character but just need a surname, you can type the first name you’d like to use into the box labelled Set Forename (see image below). Then Scrivener will just come up with a list of surnames to match. This process works vice-versa if you have a surname you’d like to use but not a first name; type the surname into the box labelled Set Surname.

What Else Can I Do With the Name Generator?

You can set the Obscurity Level (see the slider in the middle of the right dialogue box in the image above). So if you want a very ordinary name, set the slider to Low. Set it in the middle if you want the name to be more unusual. Set the slider over to the right if you want the name to be rarely used.

The very last thing you’ll see in the image above is the box with the Name Lists to be used in name generation (this is right at the bottom of the image above). Here you can choose from Literary surnames, American names, German names, Italian names etc so you can get the right kind of name for your character. Just make sure you select at least one list for first names and at least one list for surnames otherwise you’ll get an error message.

You can see in the image above that I’m after female names, with double-barrelled surnames and I’ve selected the Literary Surnames list. I’ve also chosen the Female Forenames list but you can’t see this in the image. I’ve set the obscurity level at medium.

In the dialogue box on the left in the above image, I’ve moved the slider to 20 names. This is usually enough for me to find something I like, but you can play around with the slider and ask for more or less names.

Now all I have to do is click the Generate Names button.

What Did Scrivener Come Up With?

So here’s the list of names generated.

 

I’m loving Camilla Capote-Priest and Kaitlin Marvell-Madison. Katey Rice Strafford also has a nice ring to it. I would probably never have come up with names like that by myself so that’s why I love using Scrivener’s Name Generator. It gives me a bit of extra inspiration.

What do you think? Have you used the name generator in Scrivener? Will you use it, now that you’ve seen how easy it is? What are some of the name combinations it’s generated for you?