1. TheBaconThief
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    TheBaconThief Member

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    Finding and Creating Names for Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheBaconThief, Oct 2, 2009.

    It can be frustrating sometimes finding the right name for your characters. Finding the right personality, backstory, and characteristics can be fun until you reach a sudden roadblock; naming the character you've just created. I've found some ways to battle this little demon and I'll share it with you.

    Baby name books/websites can help you significantly in this process, just hope that no one is watching you while you looking through them. That person may question you if your having a child.

    Taking names from already established characters from various media, books, movies, tv, etc. Just don't borrow well known characters that will make it obvious where you got it from, for instance: Naruto, Tom Cruise, Frodo. Mix it up a little, for example, Jessica Bowyer. Jessica is a common first name, Bowyer is a boss in Super Mario RPG.

    Lastly, meeting people wherever you go is also a great idea to find names. Someone you meet might have the name that you might have been looking for. If it doesn't fit the character but the name is still interesting, you may write the name down and place it to someone else that hasn't been created yet.

    On a side note, if you have elves in your story, there is a website that generates any name into Elvish. My first name is Matt so I typed it in, Erunno pops on my screen. For you fantasy buffs, this can help you out significantly.

    Hopefully this helps some of you. I don't know if anyone else had the same dilemma as me regarding this topic. For all I know, I'm the only one who has this problem.
     
  2. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Picking names is to me a very tentative or intuitive process. When it comes to fictive names, they tend to just pop into my head when I invision the character - I begin to form sounds in my head that relate to the character somehow and those sounds form a name that fits their personality and voice. As for characters with real names, it's a little trickier. It can take ages to find the right one (for my MC it took a year or more) but once I find it I know it's "the one".

    But I think it's weird with names. I think all my friends fit their names somehow, even the ones who are different but share the same name. Strange associations appear out of nowhere and combinations seem to make sense.

    But what's in a name?
     
  3. Sillraaia
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    Sillraaia Senior Member

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    Everything is in a name. Names invoke ideas in peoples heads about the character before you even describe them.
    I tend to roadblock every time I come to the naming the character part, and no amount of roaming baby name sites seem to help me. The names I feel fit the characters I tend not to be happy with because I feel they don't quite fit into the story, and that is kind of important. You can't have an exotic character from a different world, who speaks a different language, and call him Jack, or Bob. It needs to sound like it would come naturally in their language. And when you are referring to two different races of people, you cannot call one Jack and the other Bob, for example.

    But therein lies my dilemma. I have a character that I can think of no other name that will fit him, than the common one he has - even though he is on his own planet, and has his own language / culture.

    Don't stall yourself out on the name - you can change names later easily. Important thing is getting A name down, any name, as long as you remember it while you are writing the story. Being unable to decide on a name could be a story stopper, if you let it. IMO, better to pick one now and possibly change it later. Yes, even though sometimes you may grow attached to the name throughout the course of the story.
     
  4. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    people I meet have the best names for characters in my novel
     
  5. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's a genuine problem for placeholder names, and I think it's better to try and use a title that refers to the character without it being a name, until the time comes to replace it in the text.

    My main character was named "Hero" for a year. Not that he's a hero in many senses of the word, but it was a simple identifier that wouldn't color my decision when finding his real name.

    Although, at times of fast writing I sometimes type "Hero" by mistake...
     
  6. Leah Woods
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    Leah Woods Active Member

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    Once upon time when I had problem with names, but soon after I found solution. I decided characters don't really have to have meaningful name, as long as I like the name and it fits character. So now I just randomly pick out name from lists.

    And just can't stop being envious of you because you can change name when you feel like it. Just search for name and replace. When writing on Bosnia it's pain in the neck. Because of that, I rarely change the names of characters.
     
  7. Sillraaia
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    Sillraaia Senior Member

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    I considered using placeholder names, such as 'hero' or 'badguy' but chose not to. I still chose a name, one that was closest to what I felt suited the character best. It has helped paint the story better in my own head as I write it.. I found seeing "Hero" or "Badguy" in the text as I was writing was way too distracting for me - it interrupted any kind of creativity as I was concocting the story. It felt like an OCD thing in that I knew there was no reason for it to distract me; it just did, and I couldn't get past it, personally.
    With my hero it was a little different.. I had been through a list of names, and only one of them really jumped out at me and said "This is me!" and it suited the character I made so well I just went with it, thinking to make other story considerations after the first draft was done, and decide whether it was to stay or not at the end.

    Bosnia? Is that a text program you use to write in? Try openoffice.org, it is free and has a find and replace feature. I also find it nicer to be able to change the colour of the backgrounds.. helps get my imagination flowing a little smoother without actually impacting the document itself.


    edit:
    I know what you mean Phantasmal, about the name meanings as well. I like the idea of it more than I tend to like the realities of them though.. I find I tend not to like the names that have the best meaning behind them - except for my mc. I picked my hero's name and then looked up its meaning to find it suited perfectly also. Just wish t also fit with the story... heh
     
  8. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    I tend to go by how a name sounds first and foremost, but I also have an obsession for trying to pick names with a meaning that fits the character. Online baby name sites are my best friend. :-D
     
  9. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I usually use a normal first name that has a nice nickname. Then I used to work in an office with many files and just flip through the index cards to find a nice sounding last name. Now I have a new job so I just use the phone book.
     
  10. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Elizabeth Halloway. Rich or poor?

    Charles Dahmer. Nice guy?

    I like mixing fameous people's name up.
     
  11. Kahlem
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    Kahlem New Member

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    Yea, I just get any common name, cut off half of it, and I usually get a unique name that, first, actually sound like a name, and second, really goes along with my characters.
     
  12. MarchOfMephisto
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    MarchOfMephisto Member

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    Mine just come to me.
    For one of my favourite OC's, I was stood in a bus shelter, it was cold and snowing and I decided that whilst I was waiting for my bus, I'd think about my new characters. I struggled with the last name for my character Edward, and it was then that I noticed they bus shelter was green....hence, I called him Edward Green :)

    You can find names from pretty much anything. I owe a lot to that bus shelter. Lol.
     
  13. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    I don't think it's half so important as people like to think. . . Though I have also agonised over the names.

    Ted could be a mamma's boy, a serial killer (he was such a nice guy), an affluent businessman, a lawyer, an insurance salesman, a pawn-shop owner, a real estate agent, a plumber, a construction worker, an evil prick or a goody-two-shoes saint.

    What's in a name? It's a good question. Over time, the name will suit the character. Eventually, the reader comes to associate the character you present with the name you've assigned to them. In other words, you impose your own "meaning" on the name. I say, embrace it. Take control. Make the name work for you.

    With that in mind, I'm more intrigued by 'unlikely' names, as opposed to ones that seem to fit right from the get-go. Dexter, for example. It seems unlikely at first, but then. . after reading for a while. . no other name would do!

    Or Pug, from Raymond E. Feist's fantasy series. What kind of name is "Pug" for a great magician? Again, of course, it's the perfect name. Because the character grows into the name, in your mind, just as people do in real life.

    I've met several people with my name, none of whom were even remotely like me. And yet. . it suited them just the same.
     
  14. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    Sounds, oddly enough. I will connect certain characters with sounds, usually syllables. Especially if it's a fantasy.

    Sometimes looking through baby naming sites will work. A name will just pop up.

    Sometimes placement names will usually work temporarily, but they almost certainly become permanent.
     
  15. MelissaLynne
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    MelissaLynne Member

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    Usually I give it a lot of thought when naming my main characters. For my supporting characters I simply just jot down whatever comes into my head. Sometimes I take the names of my friends and mix them up!
     

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