1. Awz
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    Awz New Member

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    Character names you just can't stand and what to do?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Awz, Jul 30, 2016.

    So I've got two characters in my current WIP. I don't like either of their names. Both were intended as place holders until I had a better idea of what to call them. Now I can't find names that I like. Peter, was just a name that came to mind while I was typing some of his dialog. Cassie, actually took a little thought. However after reading The Fifth Wave, I can't stand the name anymore. My Cassie is nothing like the Cassie in that book and I can't get it out of my head. Neither are my main or protagonist but they both play important roles in the story.
    I know this problem isn't unique to me. I'm wondering what some of you have done to solve this dilemma.

    Mike
     
  2. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not clear on the dilemma. If you actively hate Peter and Cassie, it seems to me that a name that you don't hate, even if it's not perfect, is worth substituting in.
     
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  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just keep writing with the current names. It's pretty easy to do a search and replace later on when a better name comes to you. Look out for abbreviations, though, or you'll miss them in the final copy.

    If you're just trying to figure out how to find a better name? For contemporaries, I'll go to one of the "popular names by year" sites for the country my characters are in and figure out what year they'd have been born. Then I go through the lists until something catches my eye. Not perfect, but... not bad.
     
  5. AsGryffynn
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    AsGryffynn New Member

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    Try to pick unusual but not exceedingly rare names (unless you have a reason for that).
     
  6. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I change character names all the time. It's no biggie. Like BayView said it's a simple find and replace.
     
  7. Caveriver
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    Caveriver Active Member

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    If you are looking for placeholders until you decide on the names you really want, try using a single capital letter. Studies show the mind can decifer words having only seen the length of the word and a few letters. For instance: I *m g**ng to t*he s***e f*r b***d. I bet you can figure out that I am going to the store for bread. My point is that the mind assigns meaning to words as pictures. So, if you think "Peter" is really a "P" sort of fella, keep the P, and refer to him only as "P" until you figure out the rest. If "P" feels too weak, or feminine, or you are associating the letter P with something that makes you feel unsatisfied, try another letter that gives you a better feeling. As you write, and you arent distracted by the names you don't like, you will be able to focus more on WHO they are, and they will likely, eventually, tell you what their names are. Just a thought.
     
  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I do what @BayView does; find baby name lists from the year of my character's birth (give or take a few years) and pick ones I like. Sometimes it takes a while before a name feels 'right', but I'm very very picky with male names so I have to make do. It sucks that a lot of the names I like belong to male colleagues... I really don't feel comfortable using them for romantic heroes in case my colleagues think I'm secretly in love with them and I'm writing my fantasies. :/

    I agree with the advice to avoid really out-there names, especially if the pronunciation isn't obvious, but I've also seen advice not to use really common names (like Peter) because they're forgettable. That also makes sense to me so I've tried to find a middle ground with my third book, though I still err on the side of classic over kooky. I can't take people with kooky names seriously (sorry Honey BooBoo et al).
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    This approach may make the find-and-replace a bit more complicated at the end of the writing. If it subs "Josiah" for every "P" you'll end up with "Josiahizza is not a food group!" and "said Josiahenny". You can do a search for spacePspace, but then you'll have leftover "P's" and "P." in your story...
     
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  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Random note: My favorite method of finding new names is looking at the masthead of a magazine.
     
  11. Caveriver
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    Caveriver Active Member

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    I've never had this issue when changing a charater's name. But then, I don't rely on the computer to do the replacing. Thorough revising takes care of it. Different strokes, as it were.
     
  12. Romana
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    Romana Member

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    If you want names that are similar, use a name site.
    That's what I did, and I wound up with names I didn't particularly love, but they had the right sounds and meanings. I wanted three names: one that could be shortened to "Roy"; one that started with a "T" and had a celestial meaning; and one that started with an "N" and ended with an "A". It took a lot of searching, but eventually I found what I was looking for, even if I wasn't head-over-heels for some of their names.

    You don't have to love your characters names. Names don't always have to be cool and perfect. Your readers won't know that you didn't like the name "Cassie," and don't worry about using a name that's used in another book. I read two books (in a short span of time) with a character named "Marcus" in them but the fact that I hated the Marcus in one book didn't make me hate the Marcus in the other.
     
  13. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    So you have characters called things like Cosmopolitan and Time ?
     
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  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    :) I meant the part where they credit all the editors, writers, etc.
     
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  15. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    Somebody, Arthur Clarke maybe, used the lists if the dead from historical disasters like the Titanic. Names will end up slightly dated, but there hasn't been too much of a shift in the last 50 years or so, if you stay more recent.
     

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