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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    554

    How do you choose your characters' names?

    When I write, knowing a character's name is important for me, it helps them to take shape in my head. It helps create who they really are. If I don't know their name or if it doesn't fit then it bugs me until I get it right.

    Usually for me the characters come to me named, but if I'm looking for a name for a character I flip through a book or a site, write down the names I like, and try them out. I have to say them, sign them, feel them, before I can decide. For example in the novel I'm revising Serendipity and Alliana came to me just as they are, with the nicknames Dip and Alli, but a minor character who becomes important later, Ashley, took forever to name. Simple name, it just felt right for a traitor. Which is not to say anything bad about any Ashleys I know.

    How do you name your characters?
    Plenty of novel babies but no real ones for a few more years.
    Currently loving on:
    Siobhan, Eleanor, Catherine, Bridget, Lenore, Matilda, Adelaide, Cosima, Genevieve
    Arthur, William, Percival, Spencer, Henry, Felix, Nathaniel, Gatsby, Holden, Miles
    Fur baby: Roger

  2. #2
    catloverd Guest
    Normally I come up with a story and each character has a personality, then I look for a name that fits that characters personality as well as their appearance. Sometimes I try to find a name by searching for a meaning, so if I want a peaceful character, I look for a name that means or relates to peace. Other times the names just come to me. It also depends on the era/genre the story is written.

    I normally don't have any problems finding names since I have a huge list and I make a list for each story that I think the names fit in. Then I pick from that list as I come up with characters. Usually for minor characters I just pick random names since they are minor. I spend a little more time on the major characters.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    96
    I have a notebook full of names which I've heard or seen and liked. When I have a new character I usually just flip through it. I also spend a lot of time on NameBerry asking for help with my characters. I have the same problem as you, I have to have a character's name before I even think about writing them. I had that problem recently with my MC's future baby. I'm still a very, very long time away from actually mentioning the baby but I still have to have his name ready. I finally settled on Charlie Snowden after a list of about 20 names!
    Alice O'Dea, Simona Valentine, Link North, Eli Deacon, Benny Snowden
    My own characters!
    Read my novel here:
    http://www.wattpad.com/story/1193276-love-letters

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    California
    Posts
    8,775
    It depends on what I'm writing--genre and requirements.
    I usually just pick something that feels okay to be getting on with. Then as I get to know the characters I reassess.

    I definitely keep lists of names I like, especially for villains or apathetic characters since I tend not to naturally love their names.
    Top Names: Benedict Calvin & Noelle Geneva
    Olivia/Livy : Darah/Bethel : Eve/Verity
    Eli/Solomon : Luke/Zane: Levi/Phineas
    Due in January!




  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,147
    I've compiled a list of names that I like (and a few I don't, for mean/snooty characters). But it usually takes me a while and a bit of searching before I come across the right name for a character.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    286
    My thing is I decide the character before the name, pretty simple. Like, I'll choose the character's ethnicity or think about their parent's preference or personality. Basically, I have to come up with a logical reason my character would be named what they are, which ultimately leads back to their parents. The character's parents aren't going to name their kid Sparrow if they aren't hippies or Francois if they aren't French. For example, I have a character I named Barbara because her mother is very snotty and uptight and a little old fashioned, but then Barbara ends up being a sort of rebel tomboy and calls herself Bobby. I love that
    One way I always know if I named a character right is if it's impossible for me to picture them as anything else. I envy those people who can just decide the name doesn't work and go through and change it, that never works for me. If I name a character Emily, then her name is going to be Emily. That's why I spend an inordinate amount of time researching before I write each character in. I don't have to like the name, it's just got to fit.
    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. - Albert Einstein

    Girls: Seraphine, Kristabel, Magdalena, Shiloh, Opal, Jobie, Calla, Seeley, Noelle, Mara, Lucille

    Boys: Robin, Gabriel, Mackenzie, Nash, Phillip, Raphael, Edmund, Abraham, Lewis, Pierce, Link

    Current Crushes: Mackie and Devlin

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    554
    I keep a list too. My friends and family think I'm kind of nuts since I don't have kids and am years away from it, even when I explain it's for characters. It's nice to know other writers do it too.
    Plenty of novel babies but no real ones for a few more years.
    Currently loving on:
    Siobhan, Eleanor, Catherine, Bridget, Lenore, Matilda, Adelaide, Cosima, Genevieve
    Arthur, William, Percival, Spencer, Henry, Felix, Nathaniel, Gatsby, Holden, Miles
    Fur baby: Roger

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    893
    Usually by the name's meaning.
    I typically base names off a characters personality traits. Sometimes physical attributes. Sometimes it based off their ethnicity. Sometimes my characters name themselves. It's funny how fictional characters can grow in to a fleshed out being, isn't it?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    129
    I always joked that I started writing in second grade because I ran out of dolls to name and started on characters. Always been a name geek, so new stories with new names are fun. Usually I get the character first, name second, and then flesh out the character. Though there was that one time something inside my head said, "Write about a Judd and a Monica" I changed the spelling to Monicka, but I wrote about them.

    I often use meanings. My last novel had Halyn Mugarson as the main character, with Esteban Sanchez as the love interest. Steven's always been a favorite name of mine, but I'd used it too many times and ended up giving Esteban the Spanish version of the name, and that gave him his heritage. He broke into spontaneous Spanish throughout the novel and had a mother named Mercedes (which inspired his daughter's name, Mercy) and siblings named Emiliana, Mariela, and Marcos. Halyn means "special, unlike any other" which is exactly what Halyn was trying to be, trying to feel like she wasn't worthless. Mugarson came from the name Muga, which means "nothing" or "nothingness" and that's how her father, the man who gave her the name, makes her feel. Like nothing. Oxymoronic! I love it! In the story, her mother calls her "Lynnie" and her dad calls her "Hal" Halyn explains that her dad wanted a boy named Hal, her mom wanted to name her Lynn. They both got what they wanted with Halyn.

    Other times, I'll use a certain origin. In my Beauty and the Beast retelling, determined not to name Beauty Beauty, Belle, Isabelle, or anything -belle, I found a greek name that meant "most beautiful"- Calista. And named all the other characters with Greek and Latin names from there. I hate having characters with the same initials (Judd and Monicka had a David and a Dinyaza in their story and I hated having two D names. Just bothered me. I like to use initials to abbreviate names in notes.)
    Anyway, the cast of Calista's story is by far one of the more extreme examples of that- but at least I remember all my characters:
    Aurelia, Briony, Calista, (the sisters) Damien (the beast- Damien ironically means "to tame") Elani, Flavian, (Calista's parents), Gabriel, Haemon, Ignatius, Julian, Kyrie, Lysander, Melina, Natham, Olympia, and Pandora.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    1,723
    I usually think about the character, and just skim through my name journal and see what fits. If they seem mean, it's Vyna. Innocent? That's Charity. I really don't know how to describe it any other way.

    Ladies
    Winnie, Clara, Harper, Rosalind
    Gentlemen
    Rory, Harry, Ansel, Wilbur

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