Character Names

Discussion in 'Indie Writing, Publishing & Marketing Discussion' started by jedi79, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. jedi79

    jedi79 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    51
    How do you come up with character names for your books? I know there are a lot of different ways, but what is yours?
     
    #1
  2. Chautona

    Chautona New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    12
    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.
     
    #2
  3. MatthewJ

    MatthewJ New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2012
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    2
    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.
     
    #3
  4. PaulineCreeden

    PaulineCreeden New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2012
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    12
    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
     
    #4
    sherrijots likes this.
  5. Michael J Scott

    Michael J Scott New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2012
    Messages:
    242
    Likes Received:
    53
    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.
     
    #5
  6. hippiechyck

    hippiechyck New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    12
    they usually just come to me, with the basic storyline already formed

    although, with my Dragonrider fanfic, i need to look up lists of names so i don't use one McCaffrey already used
     
    #6
  7. ShawnLamb

    ShawnLamb New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2012
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    13
    I have a baby name book and look up meanings to fit the character. I don't want to make the names hard to pronounce, but I want some unusual. In fact, named one of the immortal characters "Avatar" long before the movie came out. I thought I made it up from a couple of names in the book since I had never heard of an 'avatar' before.
     
    #7
  8. sherrijots

    sherrijots New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    17
    Sometimes a name pops into my head. Lately, I go to online name websites. I'm fond of one particular site which has a lot of names from cultures around the world. I also use a lot of Latin words, sometimes tweaking them a bit just to make them a little different. I had one character that I described as golden. I found a synonym for gold, tweaked the word a bit and came up with Au'reat.
     
    #8
  9. silumenye

    silumenye New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    2
    Sometimes names just drop into your lap out of the sky, as it were. Other times, you can spend hours trying to find the right name.

    Because I write fantasy, it can be a little bit harder. Sometimes, I use modern names that do not sound overly modern. Sometimes I use foreign languages to find meanings for certain words - and then tweak them slightly to fit. Sometimes, I even use surnames from actors in films. And sometimes, I just make them up off the top of my head.

    Have you ever noticed how some characters pop into your head, with names already attached? And then there are those you just can't find a name for?
     
    #9