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Character Names

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#1 jedi79


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Posted 05 February 2012 - 12:43 PM

How do you come up with character names for your books? I know there are a lot of different ways, but what is yours?

#2 Chautona


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Posted 05 February 2012 - 02:37 PM

I confess that usually, by the time I start writing, the character has a name that "fits" them already. Aggie was the first thing I put "on paper" after I began writing again 10 years ago, and by the time I started typing, it WAS her name.. I couldn't have named her anything else. Their personalities seem to dictate names.

I have noticed that I tend to choose names that are common enough that people have heard them frequently. Whereas I named my first four daughters Challice, Morgann, Braelyn, and Kaylene, I would likely only use Morgann... and without the extra N if I was going to use one in a book. Now, sometimes my characters use less common names for their families. I know that sounds weird. I mean, I'm the one naming, right? Well, it doesn't "feel" like I am. I let the character's personality come out, which is how Aggie has nieces and nephews that are a bit unconventional like Vanora (Vannie), Laird, Tavish, and Elspeth. The others are pretty common in my book.

For the Wynnewood series, I went with lists from the Doomsday book and similar things. I wanted names that fit the time period even though I was writing more fantasy than historical.

For my pirate adventure series, I used lists of sixteenth century Italian and Spanish names.

Mostly, though... the characters and their personalities seem to dictate names that, at least in my name, fit.

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#3 MatthewJ



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Posted 05 February 2012 - 07:14 PM

By meaning. I have a shepherd named Schaffer, which means shepherd. A cheerleader is named Adina, which means slender. Maybe I'm too easily amused.

By ethnic origin. It can give a consistent feel among groups and so forth, but I try not to use familiar names.

By first letter. If I have too many names that start with A-F, it's time for an N+.

By personal meaning. A maiden name of a grandparent. The name of a family member. As I add to my family tree, I'll probably start using names from there.

Based on real people. The book I'm working on now is SF and uses modified versions of real names from the space industry that readers who are into space will be able to figure out easily. They're minor characters because I don't want to be sued.

I probably spend far too much time choosing names, but somewhere there's somebody who will get the joke or reference and enjoy that extra depth.

#4 PaulineCreeden



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Posted 05 February 2012 - 08:38 PM

They pop into my head...or if they don't, I name them after a person the character reminds me of then change the name slightly

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#5 Michael J Scott

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 07:21 AM

It depends. Some names pop in my head. Others I choose because they have meanings behind them. In Jefferson's Road, I chose the names Peter and Martin because they reference St. Peter and Martin Luther. I chose to name another character Grant Collins, which is a combination of Ulysses Grant and Michael Collins (Irish resistor).

Sometimes, I'll grab the white pages and pick a first name from one person and the last name from someone else.

If they come from a foreign country, I try to find a name from baby lists for that country that fits.
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