1. Dylan67
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    Dylan67 New Member

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    character names

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Dylan67, Sep 28, 2011.

    i am having a problem with coming up with good solid names for my characters. i find its hard to find the perfect first and last name to fit a characters personality. can i get some tips on how to think of names? is there any trick you use?
     
  2. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Pick the first name you think of. While writing, constantly make notes to yourself about what you want your character's names to be. There's nice little function called find and replace in word - make us of it when you have settled on a name for your character.

    If it it really bothering you, look at some Etymology webistes, EX behindthename.

    I just go with names I like. Only when a character is pivotal to the story would I put any thought into their name.
     
  3. LParadise
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    LParadise New Member

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    My personal choice is to use a name generator to create a huge list of random first, last and sometimes middle names. Then I go down the list and just read the names out loud. If I read a name I like I write it down, doing this till I have a list of 20 or 30 names. Then I go back and mix match first and last names around till I come up with something that I feel fits the personality of the character. This is just one way of thousands though.

    Few things to remember though:
    Avoid alliteration- Ex. Albert Anderson, Haley Holloway. This will cause your character to seem less serious.
    Avoid starting two names with the same letter- Ex. Clint Blackwell and Clive Johnson. Readers can get them confused easily.
    Be sure that the combination of your hero and heroine’s names don’t sound silly together- Ex. Jack and Jill. Bonnie and Clyde (unless this is on purpose for plot reasons.)
    Make sure your characters name fits the time and genre of your story- Ex. Xiigmari wouldn't be a good name for a wesern cowboy, but for an alien from another planet it could work.
    Shorter, one syllable names have a more masculine feel to them, while names with two syllables or more sound more feminine. This is not always the cause though.
    Names ending with 's' tend to hiss when used in a possessive so use them sparingly.
    Also, make sure the name is something the reader can pronounce easily- Ex. Tyxoliigorp would cause the reader to have to stop and sound out the name or he/she will just replace it with something easier.

    These are just general rules, and sometimes rules are meant to be broken. Cautiously.
     
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  4. adrenaline7
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    adrenaline7 Member

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    For naming my characters, I got a baby name book and wrote down all the names I liked along with their origin and meaning, seperating the male names from females. Getting a multi-language naming book helps a lot too.

    It isn't entirely necessary for a name to have a deep meaning behind it, but if you happen to get stuck with character development, the name and its meaning can help a lot.
     
  5. Dylan67
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    Dylan67 New Member

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    thanks LParadise that helps i think ill try just writing out alot and those basic rules help i should keep them in mind well looking for names
     
  6. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I use a map sometimes. County and sometimes street names often make great names, although they tend to be more last name style.
     
  7. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    If you're doing a fantasy book why not take ordinary names and change them up a bit? I find that always works rather well.
     
  8. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    As a reader, this method tends to annoy me. Same with changing spellings of ordinary names.
     
  9. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    If a name doesn't just come to you out of pretty much nowhere, I suggest you think about when your story is set and how old your character is.
    For example, if it's contemporary, and your character was born in 1976, Google: "most popular baby names <year>". In this case, '<year>' is 1976. That quick search has led me to a site that informs me the top five (out of 40 displayed on the first page) are Michael/Jennifer, Jason/Amy, Christopher/Melissa, David/Heather, and James/Angela.

    You'll find that for basically the past several hundred years (okay, maybe that's an exaggeration), Michael has been the most popular name. I guess if you want a kid to be a winner, you name him after the guy who cast Satan out of Paradise.

    In another thread here (Names for an Anti-hero?), I posted the following quote. Please pay special attention to the bolded.
     
  10. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Personally I think it makes the names feel more natural but still gives the feeling that the character is in a fantasy. After all it's less jarring to have a farmer called Tomas, than Xillaginoz.
     
  11. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    Alliterations are cool. I don't care what anyone says.
    All your other suggestions make sense, though.

    Personally, I just use names that I like, or use an online generator if I'm really stumped. I try not to look too deeply into the meanings of names, unless I'm going for some kind of symbolism, which is rare.
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I'd be leery of advice that says you can't do X when naming your characters.

    Imagine if Nabokov had come to an internet forum (if they had existed in his day) with his proposed name for an MC -Humbert Humbert (Lolita). Or if Neal Stephenson showed up announcing that his MC was Hiro Protagonist (Snowcrash). You'd see all kinds of posts saying, effectively, "No, you can't do that." But of course both of them successfully did it.

    Go with names you like.
     
  13. Archangel66
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    Archangel66 New Member

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    My MC name is azaezal (a-zay-zull) and i still think its too......eh in the terms for a horror novel.
     
  14. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    It seems like one could choose a character name after getting to know the character. In the story I'm working on I just used the first names that came to my mind. Some of the names "work" but as my story has unfolded it's become obvious that some of the names aren't right. That's fine. I'll just come up with a better name later and then search and replace (and review).

    I do suggest doing a Google search on the name of any significant character. If there is a real person with that name you want to be sure your character is obviously not intended to represent that person. I do Google searches on all the significant names in my story. It turns out the name of one of my cities, on an alien world, is also the name of a small village in Ethiopia. It's amazing what Google can turn up.
     

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