How to Use Scrivener’s Name Generator

The Scrivener logo.This week’s post is going to be a short one. But I have to share!

Scrivener is an incredibly popular piece of writing software. It has loads of features. Loads! It has so many, in fact, that you could use it for years and still find ones you’ve never seen before.

I had one of those moments last week. Scrivener has a name generator. You know, for coming up with names for your characters. And it’s ridiculously full-featured.

And now I’m going to show you where it is. Just in case, you know, you also had no idea it existed.

Note: these directions are for the Windows version of the software.

How to find the name generator

  1. Go to “Tools.”
  2. Go to “Writing Tools.”
  3. Optional: Boggle at the list of tools. Did you know those were there? I didn’t.
  4. Click on “Name Generator…”

That’s it! Super simple.

Screenshot of the name generator in Scrive

So what’s in this thing?

Just look at it!

The Scrivener name generator, with a list of generated names, genders, first/last name origins, and other fields.

You can:

  • Choose male or female names (or both).
  • Choose a culture for the first and last name.
  • Filter a little: do you only want names starting with the letter A? You can! Do you want a name that ends and starts with the same letter? I can’t imagine you’ll use that a lot. But you can!
  • Save the names you like in the shortlist.
  • Check out what the names mean in the “First Name Meanings” tab.
  • Import a list of names from somewhere else. Do you have your own list of names? Then plug them in!

And the “First name/Last name origin” tabs? Look at them. Look at them!

Scrivener's name generator with the "First name Origin" drop-down menu selected.

Not only can you choose names from many modern cultures, there’s also a large selection of ancient cultures. A list of ancient Aztecan names? That’s phenomenal.

Will this feature change your life? Probably not. But is it cool that it exists? Absolutely. It’s a cute, versatile little tool, and if you ever need it, it’s there. Go wild!

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2 thoughts on “How to Use Scrivener’s Name Generator

  1. The big issue I hit with it is that the English names are strongly slanted to Austen and Hardy, so don’t work for modern stories; and the American names, whilst modern, produce a low hit rate for England too.

    It is possible to add new name lists (which I’ve done), but knowing the English list isn’t quite what they present it as casts doubt on the usability of all of the lists where I don’t have a feel for names. So, I need to do research anyway, which takes away some of the advantage of having a pre-built name generator.

    Where I do find it very useful is invented worlds/races. Instead of risking loss of momentum while writing because I suddenly need the name of a minor NPC or having to go back through a first draft filling in lots of [NAME] place holders, I can create name files during the initial planning and just crank one out whenever I need it.

    1. Oh, that’s interesting! I only just found the feature (and I don’t need to name anyone at this immediate moment), so I didn’t probe it too deeply. But that’s odd. I’d expect English-language software to at least have modern English-language names. That’s weird, and that definitely calls into question the other lists.

      But the way you’re using it sounds like the best idea–don’t expect it to be robust enough to use as your one-and-only source of names (especially if you don’t want to upload more names into it yourself.) But do use it to quickly roll temporary names when you need one, then come back and replace those later if you need to.

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