1. ink_slinger
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    ink_slinger Member

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    Character Naming

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ink_slinger, Jun 20, 2011.

    I thought it would be kind of cool to have a thread of names, a place to discover new names or talk about your method for coming up with names.

    I personally keep a list of names I like, or that have interesting meanings or history, and when I need a name for a character (if it doesn't come to me from thin air) I refer to the list and find something that fits.

    What do you do? What are some of your favorite names?

    I know many writers don't want to give a name they really love, but maybe some names you aren't using.

    Some of my favorites:

    Edana-origin unknown, meaning jealousy
    Zorimus-Greek, meaning likely to survive
    Gregory-English, meaning watchful, alert
    Ursula-Latin, meaning she-bear
     
  2. Marranda
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    Marranda Senior Member

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    Names names names

    I've used mostly names that I've heard somewhere that I liked, or is the name of someone I've met who happened to be an impressionable personality. Here are a few of mine:
    Sabrina- goes by "Sabby" though I've never met a Sabrina who goes by Sabby and I've only met two Sabrinas my whole life.
    Taren- was a girl I'd met in H.S. who had such love for life it was almost contagious =)
    Lainey- a name I've liked for a long time.
    Warden- just popped into my head though, complete left-field.
    Chale- I actually used babynames.com for this one. I needed a strong name for a strong character though he isn't going to stick around for long, and nothing came to mind. A think I browsed babynames.com for 5 minutes before Chale popped up and stuck in my brain.

    Naming my husbands fish usually helps too (however weird that sounds!), he has so many, and they're all different in their own way, so spitting out names for them sometimes helps me to figure out a name for a character I may be stuck on at the moment. (If babynames.com fails me, that is...)
     
  3. Sarvoth
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    Sarvoth New Member

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    I actually have some thoughts on this in general. From a Fantasy writer perspective, many use real world names for characters and others don't. I never know where I am with this. I feel if I commit to some made up (that sound good) I am doing my part in trying to make unique character names.

    The name Sarvoth (my username here) is completely made up. Made it up back in my high school days. To me it sounded aggressive and made me think of the color red. I found it surprising that Sarvoth was also thought up by other people, who may have saw me on the net and decided to borrow it, or like me, thought it up on their own.

    Here are a list of made up names I use. They don't have any meaning, other than what they feel in relation to their characters. I'll list what they made me feel when I made them up and thus match characters I had that needed names.

    1. Laquin - Motherly
    2. Lutharius - Aggressive, Cold, Calculated, but can also be a name of a holy person, probably from the Luth part of the name.
    3. Moganthius - Wizard-like, an outcast, oddball
    4. Gorban - Evil, dark, a magician of dark arts, etc
    5. Khabib - Old, wise, picture this person with a walking stick
    6. Zalik - Warrior, agility over strength

    Those are just a few. The way I come with names is starting off with a letter. I'll use Zalik as an example. I was trying to come up with a name for a dark elf-like character. I wanted to use the letter Z as it seemed more exotic to do so. I wanted it to be short so ending with a K would be good, avoiding letters like S, Y, I, or A. I filled in the middle pretty easily based off the start and end characters for it sound decently when spoken and wouldn't require the reader to ponder how to pronounce the name.
     
  4. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I use common names. Rather they are cliched or not. I don't try to think too hard on what names to choose for my characters and they normally have no meanning behind them. The seven names of my characters currently in my book are Jason Devon, Richard Devon, Kelly Devon, Maria Baker, Tom Wreight, Christina Thomson, and Wayne Johnson. Pretty common, are they? Ah yeah, did I forget to tell you that my username (not this one) is Spankdolla?
     
  5. Lion
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    Lion New Member

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    I've honestly found that sometime trying to come up with names for characters to be quite hard. I try my best to shy away from names that have been used before, but when it comes to common names that's nearly impossible. I usually end up changing my character names many time when I'm writing to what I think best suits the them. But when I start I usually just choose something generic as a place holder till I work it out.
     
  6. Ashrynn
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    Ashrynn Active Member

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    I do my best to use names that signify something important in the book.

    My stories main character will be named Alexandria - Meaning Defender as she will save someone, twice, within the story.

    The other characters name will be named Rena - Meaning Rebirth as she wakes up after being dead for exactly one seconds.
     
  7. Jesstro
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    Jesstro Member

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    I agree with Reggie in the use of common names. And I don't believe they are cliche at all. Common names are real names, and all historical names began as a common name. It is the deed of the person, or family that distinguishes there name among others, not the sound of it. IMO, when an archaic sounding name is used just to give an impression that the character is important is cliche.
     
  8. ink_slinger
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    ink_slinger Member

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    Advantages of the Common Name

    I definitely agree that common names have a lot of merit. They're easy for the reader to remember, that add to the "everyman" feel of a character, if that's what you want, and spellcheck doesn't highlight them (personal pet peeve).

    I have definitely given characters common names. John, Alex, Luke, Mark, Jane, Anne, Elizabeth. They all have a certain recognizability, dignity, and history that you can't get from a rare or made-up name.

    In my most recent endeavor I've been using the names of saints, especially ones with interesting stories, and there are A LOT of saints, so that's another good place to look for inspiration.
     
  9. ink_slinger
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    ink_slinger Member

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    Oh, and also, I like to look up names by origin. In my mind, my fantasy worlds have a country or society that they're loosely based on, or if I'm writing about something more contemporary and American, then I like to look up names using that as a criterion. For instance, if I am basing a universe on European cultures, I look up names based on that. I usually favor Irish, English, and French names, although you can't really beat Greek, Latin, or Biblical if you want something with more of a classic feel.
     
  10. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Half-common names for me. I like names that are completely normal, but that you usually don't know a bunch of people called. Jessica would be a name I would never call a main character for instance. I think the name is lovely, but I know 12 people named Jessica... too common. Though some random character could very well be named something like that. What the people you know are called is very random though. I bet there are Americans out there that doesn't know a Jessica.

    My three main characters are named Lucille, Genevieve and Krista. I actually know someone named Genevieve and Krista (and there is Lucille Ball), but I don't know a bunch of them.
     
  11. ScaryMonster
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    ScaryMonster Active Member

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    It depends on what I'm writing, some times names are ones that are meaningful to me and other times I just use them as a sort of an in joke with myself.

    Some resent ones were "Doctor Aardvarkis", "Ruddiger Pew" and "Sue Nami."

    I got scowled at by my cousin when she was trying to pick out names for her soon to be born son a few years ago. I suggested "Peubert." She however called him "Klien." But in all honesty he is more of a snotty little "Peubert."
     
  12. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    For my human characters at least I like to use a mix of old fashioned names to fit in with the medieval style, completely made up names that sound like they'd fit in or just normal names edited to sound more fantasyish. Like Marketh, Robbet, Mollianne ect.
     
  13. MatthewR
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    MatthewR Member

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    babynames.com

    Your names obviously should match the context.
    Ie. Not too many "Zalik's" or "Mordrid the destroyer" running around Iowa these days. (visa-versa too. If your fantasy realm consists of Zalik and Mordrid maybe "John" should consider a re-naming card.)

    After that I love to use meaning's behind all of my character names.

    Isandro - "one who is freed" - his struggle is to break free of a society that he has been a part of for several decades and when their morals and his diverge his internal and then external fight against that is what build him to "free" himself.

    Talbot - "messenger of destruction" You guessed it, the bad guy.

    It's subtle but I like it.
     
  14. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    -i make up names that i think sound nice.but i kinda base them off of different languages/cultures since i have a muilti-ethnic cast examples:
    -Zael Reindenburg
    -Y'nobe Nkori
    -Yoshi-ko Mastsumo
    -Rhianus Lain
    -Ming na So-yun
    -Kaalim Ksiin

    some of the names are names i have heard before but spelled differently.i don't like making things too out there like - x'yanthir ragnakrivn. its very hard too remember something like that.

    truth is though,i do have a good number of characters with names that are somewhat symbolic,but not too obvious.example : Tsuki-to is a character of mine ,his closest friend's name is I'aan Rah....see if you can make the connection.

    however,non-fantasy/sci fi stories have normal names like steve mitchels or salima johnson
     
  15. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    Some names will simply work. Those ones will just flow off the tongue, not in a slow, jumbled mess. No offense to afrodite7, but the pronunciation on such names (minus Zael; Good name) will always make a reader fumble at first, unless if the name is familiar to them, and if a book has too many of these speed bumps, you'll lose the flow.

    One site I like to use for random, sometimes forgotten U.S. Names is on www.seventhsanctum.com The results have been interesting, and while there are a lot of "fluff" names, you'll eventually see one that simply... works. It's not easy to explain, but just try saying it aloud to yourself, even repeating it over and over. If it flows, then it'll fit well into a sentence.

    Also, the names should reflect the character's personality, so you won't name a huge demonic villain "Doug," unless if you're writing a comical book. Try getting a picture of a character, then looking for a name to fit him or her.
     
  16. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    maybe you're right...i am a person who has studied languages (also i don't actualy have a character named zael,thats just an example) and i read alot.maybe i'm assuming too much of the readers (i try to have names that are pronounced exactly the way they look)
     
  17. Vamp_fan22
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    Vamp_fan22 Senior Member

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    Here are some of the names I have.

    Jesse Finch: My MC. Really hate his name. :( It's really not working for me.

    Angel Finch: Jesse's twin brother. I think it's funny that he's named Angel because he's a major jerk.

    Christian Riley: He's their best friend who betrays them at the end. His parents named him Christian hoping he would actually grow up to be a christian. He's an atheist.

    Antoinette Moore: former villain but becomes love interest. Goes by Anne or Annie

    Tobias Ellabrook: The head villain's son. He actually died but comes back later as a ghost. I love the name Tobias. I think it has a very mysterious sound to it.
     
  18. Ice Queen
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    Ice Queen Senior Member

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    ^ I like Antoinette; it's just a really pretty name to say, don't you think? Plus it sounds so sophisticated and high-class- I just get the image of Marie Antionette: 'Let them eat cake!'

    Usually I try to fit characters names around where they grew up; cause that seems more realistic. My MC is named Sari of Darkforest; she takes on the name of the land where she lives for the moment because in her country, one must earn one's second name.
     
  19. Faust
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    Faust Contributing Member Supporter

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    I also love the name Tobias. *nods approval*
     
  20. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I like to look at names on maps, especially county names. Most sound like last names but I like using last names as first names.

    My least favorite names are the ones that look like someone threw up the alphabet or that I can't figure out how to pronouce. Those kinds of names a major road blocks for me wanting to read a story.

    I think names should match the personality of the character.
     
  21. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I like the names Liliana or Brooklyn for a girl, and I really like Jesse for a boy.
     

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