1. Libbi
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    Libbi New Member

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    I suck at character names...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Libbi, Sep 13, 2015.

    I always can write everything else about my character but can never get a name that I 'like'. I have names that I feel suit my character but I think I just over think it and feel pressured to have a 'good' name. How can I stop this? What can I do?
    Its not like I don't like the name I do and it does fit my character but I feel like its not right and I change it like five million times.
     
  2. AniGa
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    AniGa Member

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    Personally, I can give you a few tips - but this is just personal stuff, you know?
    Anyone else could always disagree on some of these things... but a lot of it should be very general tips that could surely be helpful.
    • Avoid really obvious "meaningful" names. It's just so... urgh. So obvious.
    • Are you working with our real world, or a modified version of it, and with an existing language and country? You could look up popular names around the era your character was born in for that country. That is inspiring at times, even if you don't directly choose one of the results you googletastic'd.
    • If you work with fictional countries or entire fictional worlds - well, make up your own language and names! That can be very fun and gives you a lot of freedom.
    That's the tips I cam give you.
    To give you an example of how I myself do it...

    An example of my own for the latter, for names in self-invented languages, is... well, I have quite a few of them, actually.
    For example, there's the female lead in a social drama I have. Her name is Akiizu Zinjou.

    Now, one might thing that's Japanese (or even Chinese if you're unfamiliar with these languages), but it isn't.
    She's from a fictional Asian country of my own, and her name is made up of characters that exist in that country's language:
    A -ki-izu Zin-jou. (Her first name doesn't have a meaning, but her last name actually means "Great Mountain" - she's 151 centimeters tall. : P)

    "You made up an entire language?" - Yep!
    "Even with grammar!?" - Eyup!
    "Just for names...!?" - Not just for that, but mainly!
    "... why!?" - It's authentic... and it's fun! : D


    And an example for a "real" name? That would be another character of mine, Dosia Kington. She was born in England.
    Why did I choose that name? Honestly, no real reason - that's an example for the first point of advice I gave you.
    Does your own name always tell whole stories of who you are and what you're like? - Nope! It doesn't. Same thing here... it's just her name. Sure, it's a bit unusual for a person born post 2000... but eh! It's her name. No reason to read too deep into it.

    "But wouldn't a person with a sort of old name grow up differently from someone who has a very modern name? There's bound to be -" - Her nickname is Dos. ; )

    My point here: As long as a name makes sense for a character, don't read too deep into it and just give them a name.

    So, yeah. That'd be all the advice and examples I can give!
    Hope that helps a bit.


    Greets,
    AniGa
     
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  3. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    Give me the characters hair color, skin color, age (year born), and I can give you an accurate name in a heartbeat. Names (are almost mathematical) from year to year of birth. For example, there are very few children born in 2015 who are going to be named "Mildred" or "Bertha"
     
  4. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Is there someone your character reminds you of? I've based many characters (at least in part) on people I know. And sometimes, I'll give that character a name slightly similar to the real person. For instance, I once based a character on a friend named Jennifer, and I named her Denise.
    Something else I'll do is just run through names in my head, mindful of culture, sometimes speaking them out loud, until one hits me as "correct."
     
  5. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    http://www.behindthename.com/

    ^^^ Best website for names I have managed to find. You can apply loads of filters for example: country, time period etc. Also gives you the meanings of the names too for an informed choice. It's been a massive help for me, especially with my foreign characters. You can always take established names and change them to suit.
     
  6. AniGa
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    AniGa Member

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    I'd also add this for another site that's beyond awesome if you really don't want to think of names yourself, but actually have them generated for you:
    http://www.fantasynamegenerators.com

    It has pretty much... everything.
    But I really prefer not using it... I don't like not thinking of the names myself. ^^


    Greets,
    AniGa
     
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  7. Lady Marmalade
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    Lady Marmalade Member

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    For me it'll either be a breeze to think of a name or an epic journey to find the right one. Usually the sites I scour for when I need a name are:

    http://www.babynames.com/
    The first site I turn to, has dozens of names and you can pin point your search with ease. Sometimes I'll know the specifics of a name like "I want it to start with J" or "I want it to sound very Scottish" so if you're looking for something in particular go here first.

    http://www.seventhsanctum.com/
    Random generator of everything. Seriously sometimes I just go on here for fun with one of their more wacky generators but they have a good amount of name generators for a bunch of stuff. It can be as mundane as "Mandy Bell" or as crazy as "Ever-changing Minister Carrying the Amber Falchion and Who Sleeps in the Unspeakable Monument" (copied and pasted both names from the generators)

    http://fantasynamegenerators.com/
    I don't use this one as much, but it's got A LOT of options to choose from and I found some really cool weapon names with it.

    I hope you find the right name, I am so picky with names for my characters so I totally get it. I spent an entire day pacing around like a wild animal trying to think of the perfect name for my MC. I have it now, but that day was rough... and exhausting. Just make a list of possible names and slowly cross them off until you find the right one, that's what I normally do. Best of luck!
     
  8. Ms. DiAnonyma
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    Ms. DiAnonyma Active Member

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    I've a similar problem when doing fanatasy character names... I get to make them up, but yeah, it's no quick process (especially because just the reight sound is so critical to me)... and I think it's OK if you change it- even change it a lot. I have some characters that I refer to with acronyms of things that describe them, until I think I have a satisfactory name for them- like b.i.p. - born-in-prison, but wouldn't recommend that for too long because... if you use a name for them long enough, you'll get used to it- just like you get used to the names of everyone you know. If you think you've got a candidate, see what happens if you stick with it for awhile... if it remains uncomfortable after, say a month, then maybe try another... or, run it through all the potential dialogue settings (can you hear a best friend whispering their name? Calling them? Shouting it? etc.) Of course, depends on what kind of characters and story you have...

    Hope some of these answers are helpful, and best of luck in this fun (albeit sometimes challenging:) part of the writing process!
     
  9. ShalaylaW
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    ShalaylaW Member

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    There are two things that come naturally to me:
    1: Beginnings.
    2: Names
    So, let's say you have some feisty, rebellious type character. The most important thing to remember is to never give a stereotypical character a very obvious name. Like you wouldn't give this character a name like Fire, or something like that.
    The way I come up with names is imagine a ball, and at the center of that ball is the type of character you want to name, and all the details about them. Then think of really dumb, stereotypical names for that character and have them all floating inside that ball. Gradually improve upon those names, making them your own and eventually you'll get to what I call "the line" where a name will eventually come to you that's both unique and fitting to that character. I know it's hard, because I'm a perfectionist and sometimes I'll sit there, and sit there, thinking so hard on what kind of name would ring with perfection. But to be honest, if you take a break, maybe sum up your story in your mind later on in the day, something might pop out of your head that's exactly what you're looking for.
     
  10. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Go to a site with at the very least dozens - preferably hundreds/thousands - of names appropriate to the setting you're working from. Every time you see a name you don't like, force yourself to think of specific reasons why you don't like it.

    If you keep a collection of these anti-criteria in mind as you go through the lists, then you'll have an easier time skimming past the names that have the same problem(s), and this will give you a quicker time finding the names that don't.
     
  11. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    The thing about those name meanings, though, is that they don't actually have an effect on personality. My mother's name means "farmer", and she can barely keep a cactus alive. I know an Anne ("grace") who could trip over herself while sitting still, and a Matthew ("gift of God") who's an absolute nightmare to be around.
     
  12. Shattered Shields
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    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    I don't think I have much to add. I would recommend what others already have, to scan name generators for names that fit.

    But also look at the context your character was born in. The culture, the time period, that sort of thing. Look for things that'll influence the name.
     
  13. Enyo
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    Enyo Member

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    What does hair and skin have to do with someone's name?? How do you compensate for culture and religion? For instance, I was born in 1981 and my roomie was born in 1985. We both have brown skin, dark hair, and brown eyes. But she's Bengali and I'm African-American. I have an African name and she has a S. Asian name. We were both born in the States, but we very rarely meet other people with our names because they are based in non-Western cultures. I have a friend with fair skin, gree, eyes and light brown hair - and she's an Arab. Her name is Danya (it means 'close' in Arabic). She's in her late 20's now. Pulling up popular names by decade doesn't always work.
     
  14. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    3.) Lists
     
  15. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I pick a name that suits the character. I try not to make it a situation which I have to like the name. On the other hand I will not pick a name that I have strong feelings about. Either because I've known people that have tainted the name or I can't shake the image the name creates. I.e. I've known too many Michaels to use the name without recalling one of them.

    I didn't particularly like the name Tetty that I picked out for the mc of The Worms of Wicher Woo - but I felt that there was no other name for that character. And I now like it because of the character. Ditto for Hart. I felt it was corny but it suited him.

    Just finish the story first and then go back and change it. Fussing over it just becomes a procrastination. Gone with the Wind was finished before Margaret changed the mcs name at the last minute from Pansy O'Hara to Scarlett O'Hara.
     
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  16. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    oddly enough, this may be great advice. Name your characters a name that has a meaning which is 100% the opposite of the character type that you are writing for. So an Anne for a lovable klutz.
     
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  17. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Could work. I don't remember the actual quote, but Terry Pratchett, in one of the Discworld books mentioned this principle being used by parents in a village. Hope was a manic depressive, Charity a skinflint, and Chastity a woman of negotiable virtue. The men in that family, by contrast, had names like Anger, Gluttony and Bestiality, and were peaceful, temperate, and kind to animals.
     
  18. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    The OP says he doesn't like names based on meaning, but shouldn't you pick a name because of how it sounds, and not because of the meaning necessarily? For example, if you have a character who is sinister, perhaps a name like Stathis Razgul, sounds more villainous compared to a more gentle sounding name like Eric Heart, or something like that for example.
     
  19. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suspect what you mean is that he WROTE (humorously) that parents used this principle in naming...because, unless these names were bestowed VERY late in life, who could have known that, for instance, Chastity would choose that particular profession?
     
  20. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Well, perhaps i should have phrased it that Pratchett used this principle, not the fictional parents. The parents named their daughters after virtues, and somehow got the idea that boys should be named after vices.
     
  21. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I tend to keep an eye out for cool names. I jot them down and when I start a new project, I check if I could use some of those names. This is probably why I've never actually had a problem picking a name. I'm just happy to get to use those that I like, and I don't really think about whether or not it "fits" the character. I might make up a story why their parents gave him/her that name, but I don't go about it like she's beautiful, so she must have a beautiful, romantic name or he's burly so he needs a manly, gruff Viking name dammit.
     
  22. ClassyCanuck
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    ClassyCanuck Member

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    To be honest, finding a name for my character is probably my favourite part of character development for me. It is when - to me - my character becomes real. So, finding a name takes me longer than their appearance or traits because I try to find a name that fits them.
    What I usually do is look over the traits in my list and think of how I want the same to sound. Would they suit a short sounding name, or long sounding name?
    I scroll through sites like: http://www.behindthename.com/
    That site gives you names from all around the world, their history and meaning.
    When I don't have time to think about a name, I usually go with making a list of names that come to my head and picking one from a hat... but I rarely do that since I usually make the time for character development. XD
    Hope this helps.
     
  23. Indigo Sugar
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    Indigo Sugar Member

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    If coming up with character names is your worst skill, you have nothing to worry about!

    You could try finding X amount of names you like, throwing them into a bowl and drawing three, of those three pick one. Run with it, and if half way through your writing you hate the way it sounds or feels in the story, change it. No harm, no foul.
     

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