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Tip Tuesday #75

Hi everyone! I hope you're having a spiffy Tuesday. Today's tip was sent in by Alexandra Loewen. Alexandra doesn't blog yet, but you can find her on Twitter @alexandraloewen. Consider following so you'll be among the first to know when she DOES start blogging. I've gotten to know Alexandra through e-mail a bit and she's quite lovely! Here's her tip:

Writers know that finding the perfect names for their characters is critical. Personally, I have to find the right name for my characters at the start, as their name helps me drive their narrative. I like to start with names that were popular during the time period in which my story takes place. My favorite resource for finding the perfect name is the Social Security Administration's web site. Here, you can pull up lists of the most popular names for boys and girls by year (it goes back to the 1880's!). You can also search by state or by decade. There are other fun tools on this web site, including one that will show you the change in popularity of any given name.

Here is the link for the Social Security Administration's web site page on popular names:


-Alexandra Loewen

Great tip, Alexandra! I've used the SSA website for names a few times but never thought to share it here. Thank you!


  1. It's important to me to find the right name before I start too. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Very nice. Thanks for the link. :)

  3. What a great resource! I just typed in my birth year and, sure enough, Julie is #10 on the list that year. If the name doesn't have a revival soon, it will be like Maude or Gertrude when I'm in my eighties...

  4. I took names for a cadre of wimps from a George Carlin routine on "goofy boy names". You can google that phrase and watch the video, which is NSFW (language).

  5. Thanks for the tip. That's a lot easier than running all over Google!

  6. Fantastic tip. I always look forward to these posts!

  7. I use the Kurt Vonnegut method -- randomly flip through the phone book and stab your finger on a name. This will only work as long as they continue to publish phone books, of course.

  8. I hadn't seen these tips on your site before. These are great fun! Love it!


  9. The worst is when you find the perfect name for a character and then read that same name in, like, three books. Argh! Thanks for the tip.

  10. Cool site!

    When I was born I was #14. Now I'm #106. What did I do?

    It's also interesting that many of the top guy names in 2009 - Jacob, Ethan, and Daniel - were featured in "LOST."

    And oh yeah, that Team Jacob thing.

  11. Hey, cool tip! I never thought to use the SSA site!

  12. Great tip. Thanks Alexandra and Casey.

  13. Wow Alexandra! That's a great tip. And I would have never thought of doing that. Thanks.

  14. Oh, yes. I used that site a lot when I was searching for names for my daughter, Samantha. That's how I know that she was in the top 10 for 19 years in a row, but never had number one (only made it to #3), but still very popular. I love that site!