1. jigsawkid7
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    jigsawkid7 New Member

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    Mer De Noms - Sea of Names!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jigsawkid7, Feb 4, 2011.

    Ok, the hardest part or me when thinking of new characters as stupid as this sounds is coming up with a name I really like. I mean if you're going to use it the length of the story you should like the name! any one else have this difficulty or do names come second nature? How do you come up with your names? Randomly pick them?
     
  2. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am bad with naming my characters. For me the name has to feel right for the character I am writing. Most of the time I end up using one of my favorite names(Rose, Samantha/Sam, Jason, John, to name some)

    But some good advice is to just pick a filler name and worry about the name later. Name the character Bob and then when a better name strikes you, just change them.
     
  3. Lostro
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    Lostro Member

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    For main characters or characters who will play a key role, i tend to look for names that have some meaning that defines the personality of the character or the specific role they will fulfill. For the more exotic names I just think about sounds that are pleasant or try to change the names that I already know into slight variations that rings of both uniqueness slight familiarity.

    Example: George-->Jeorga
    or Jerome-->Jeramos
    Kenneth-->Kerreth
     
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  4. impure
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    impure Member

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    I choose names that are simple so that anyone can pronounce them and uncommon.
    I usually get what I want after using this tool a few times: http://www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I personally think this is a great method.

    I like names that are unique. For the most part, I don't like names like Jessica, Sarah, Ashley, John, etc (no offense if this is your name!) because they're too popular. I mean, all of us probably know at least three people with each of those names.

    This might not be bad if it was a realistic fic, but I always write in different settings -- not high fantasy or anything, but dystopic or sci-fi to the point of being in a different world. Plus, naming my characters is sort of like how I'll name any future kids: I don't want to give them a name they'll share with five other people.

    With that said, though, I cringe to see characters who are named things like Chryslyxannyn. True it's a cool name, but come on. It's unpronounceable and unrelatable.

    I try to strive for middle ground. Names that seem relatable but also not very common. My current protag is named Crimson and others have been named Athena, Taryn, etc.
     
  6. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    Yes. Unless the story involves symbolism with the names, that is most realistic. If you met a doctor in real life, his name would be essentially random based on contemporary demographical distribution. So if my character needs to meet a doctor, use a random name generator. In the past, people used phone books. I've tried the generator on Seventh Sanctum, showing a page full and choosing among them manually (or at least taking inspiration from that); or taking names from mention in the news and mixing them up.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I tend to pick names using a random renamer - (I used Behindthename as its meanings tend to be more accurate than others), but I also sometimes use names with relevant meanings. For example Uncle Tom was Thomas because he is a twin brother, Angus because he is young and strong, Iris because she is a colourful character.

    My only unusual names have a Chinese/Japanese/Khmer base - but Tola and Pich tend to be as weird as I go (Bai, Chan, Rikuto etc) Even with the longer names I give them an easy shortening, like Kazuto to Kaz.

    I tend to use 'normal' names like Angus, Jack, Matthew, Alexander, Thomas, Beatrice, Elizabeth (Bessie) etc Lorenzo, Athena and Socrates are about my most exotic.

    For places I either use ones from my local area or keep it descriptive like Seatown, First Cove, Covesea Island, Easter Minster (East Church) or tweak places my countries are Covesea Island, Ceylonica, Mediteranea, Scotia etc

    My animals - cats are all named after astonomers so I have Ptolemy, Galileo, Brian, Patrick etc
    Horses tend to be more made up - Tameska, Jedra, Invincible
    Wolf: Was found under a gorse bush, so called him Gorse.
     
  8. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    That makes 3 Athenas I've read about in the last 24 hours in unpublished fiction. :p

    I pick names pretty much at random. They usually come to me pretty easily, since I write a lot of stuff where people just have normal earth names. I have a vast bank of names in my head I've spent years storing up so there's always one in there somewhere. Mostly it's character archetypes based off kids I went to school with, so, for example, I only give the name "Jake" to smart class clowns because in my experience that was Jake. He won't mind. :p

    When it comes to Fantasy I'm a bit less practical... I don't really like relying on name generators because it feels so impersonal. My main fantasy novel I'm writing at the moment the human characters all ended up sounded French though I didn't mean it, I was just going with human names and changing them... after about 3 I realised how it sounded and carried on down that theme, though there aren't too many characters in the novel. :p With the elves, though, it was essentially random. One, I took the brand name of the CD player I was listening to and changed the last letter. Another, I was driving down the road and saw someone had put out a mis-spelled sign and used that word, then based another name (since they were family) off of that.

    I do have a name dictionary, but I mostly use it as a last resort when I can't think of anything else that relates to the character. Don't care if I have to drag myself around 3 days groaning over it, I'd rather have a name that fits than not. And eventually something will come to you. :)
     
  9. Cerrus
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    Cerrus Senior Member

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    I usually pick names by the characters personality. Here's an example of some of my characters in my fantasy novel:

    Zarek - MC, Laid back have fun with it kind of guy, but is serious when he needs to be.

    Kryser - SC, A quite serious man. Doesn't really do much fooling around. He isn't mean though.

    Seifer - SC/Antagonist, A serious cold hearted looking man, but actually has a very nice side to him.

    Cerrus - SC, A fun happy hearted man who becomes a friend of Zarek even though they work for opposite sides.

    Rosa - SC, An odd young woman who seems to be always happy even though she lives in a run down place. (It's not a creepy, crazed happy though) She becomes Zareks girlfriend for a time.

    The names took me a long time to figure out, but I finally did it!
     
  10. Lostro
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    Lostro Member

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    Huh, all your characters have an "r" somewhere in their name. Was this intentional?
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL Two in one thread is good going.

    I know mine and Mallory's are very different. Mine is Athena because I already had Socrates and wanted an explanation for why he had a Greek type name whereas his siblings were more Scots with Angus and Evelyn.

    She is one of the few characters I actively hate, she is vicious, deceptive, uses her sex appeal to get what she wants and charm things. (She is the mother in Socrates and Nate's First Day under fantasy).

    Mal's is principled, strong, I like her she is kind of a great character.
     
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  12. Cerrus
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    Cerrus Senior Member

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    Wow, I didn't even notice that! But I don't think it's that big of deal, or is it?
     
  13. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I recently wrote a short story in which I changed the main character's name about seven times as I was writing it. The first version was Phillip Smith, but I found I didn't like Phillip, so I changed his name to William. I thought that rang nicely until I realized it was much too close to a certain celebrity's name, so I changed it again and again. I eventually settled on William White. I can usually generate names out of thin air for my characters, but they don't always fit. I find out if they fit through writing about them, but I'm not sure if I can narrow down exactly how I know if they fit or not. I just do.

    I tend to try to keep my distance from unique names or names with difficult spellings or pronunciations. This is because I just hate reading material where I'm not sure if I'm pronouncing the main character's name right or not in my head; it's distracting from the story. I'd rather their name be something simple and allow the story to continue without delay.

    There is probably some connotations used with the majority of names in stories. Most wouldn't use a name like Peggy or Bill to represent an evil character, but use a name that's somewhat "dark" in appearance and maybe origin. If you're writing a story about a character you don't like, it would probably help you to use a name you don't like for that character. But I think in the end it's all about exploring your options and finding out what works best for you in the development of news names. Do the names you pick assist you in the writing of the story, or are they a distraction? Some would say to not focus much attention on a name, but instead to just write the story. I believe the story will turn out differently depending on what you are calling the character as you write. Maybe not a noticeable difference, but names do form images in our minds and it can be hard to step outside of those images.
     
  14. Archnenna
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    Archnenna Active Member

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    I go to name lists and think of some names in my head and see what 'fits' the most. I sometimes find a stock picture of a model who looks the way I imagined my character to look and try out random names to see if they 'fit' the person whose picture I'm looking at. Sometimes I even change the spelling of some common names if I see it fits more. Lol, just a few days ago I noticed most of my characters have an 'Y' in their name somewhere.
     
  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have no problem coming up with names for my characters, usually when i create them in my head they already have a name according to who they are, a name that sounds like THAT kind of person. Only problem i have had was when i wrote two different stories with the same names for the two MC, but that was because i liked that name for the Female MC and the other name sounded good together with this one. :D but i think i eventually will have to rename the characters of the forst one of these novels, but im not sweating over that yet, i am quite creative with names i guess. (at LEAST with that! ;) ) the problem for me is rather where to set the whole story.
     
  16. jigsawkid7
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    jigsawkid7 New Member

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    I find myself doing that to. If I say a name I usually have a type of person that goes along with it. For example I really like the name Cyrus, but I wouldn't give it to a quiet, laid back genuinely easy going character. To me it is more rough on the edges, tough type of name, etc.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    btw, it's 'des noms' since 'noms' is plural...
     
  18. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    My WIP is set in the future, at a time when the unusual-naming trends of today have only become more exaggerated. Thus uncommon names like Salazar, Xander, Franz, Till, Vinder, Knail, ect are relatively common among the young while more traditional names like Gareth, Leon, Marco, Vince are more common among the older generations.
    However, I do try to make a habit of picking demographically appropriate names at random more or less, instead of contriving hero/villain-like or symbolic names. That always comes off as sue-ish to me for some reason.
     
  19. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    I usually have two requirements for naming characters. They have to have syllabic flow. Usually a short name with a long name or vice-versa. And, their name has to either coincide with their appearance, or be so opposite in a way that's amusing (but I try to avoid such a cop-out). When I think of names, I usually think of a color palette for hair, eyes, etc. For example, someone named Branwen would conjure up an image of a girl with earthy coloring, lots of rich browns for hair and eyes. I could give the name to a stunning blonde, but it wouldn't feel right writing her.
     
  20. Vince524
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    Vince524 Member

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    In my last MS, I had 2 families. One family was known for very normal names. So there were characters like Mark, Simon, Greg.

    The other family all had really unique sounding names. Chase, Hunter, Varick, Balthazar, Archer. Those were a challenge. I surfed many unique names data bases. It was a lot of work, but when I found each name that was right, it was worth it.

    Now, I'm working on something else and I'm having issues again. I don't want the names as wacky as the last one, but neither do I want them normal. You just know the right name when you hear it.
     
  21. FictionAddict
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    FictionAddict Senior Member

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    Agreed! Just hate when I'm thinking the character's name is pronounced one way and when I'm talking with a friend about it, she/he pronounces it differently. It's really just distracting.

    What I try to do is think about the background of the character, where does he/she comes from. If it's American, then it's Jennifer or Richard. If it's Dutch, than it's Guus, for example. And then I think about its personality.

    I don't like names that are too unique, but too common is also bad. My solution is trying to find a surname that fits, that makes it perfect.

    My big problem now is to find names for places. Estates and cities are the worst. I just can't find a way to make up a name, but picking up a name that already exists somewhere isn't working either.

    Suggestions?
     
  22. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    They have fairly generic place name generators on Seventh Sanctum. I usually look out for apartment names while on the road. For estates, I usually name them after the clan-name/surname of the family that owns it, or I name it after distinctive physical features of it.
     
  23. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL see this is where being a name geek gets silly the name roughly means beautiful raven and does have the fair/white/blessed element of welsh in the name.

    I always get it confused with Bronwen which kind of means nice breasts :)

    I tend to either be descriptive or use obscure place names from where I live. Have to be careful though Dallas may only have like 10 houses, a pub and a petrol pump here but ... or I use the older names like Elgin would be Helgun/Helgin. Scotland contracts to Scotia etc I may add an ending to a place that already exists or did exist like Mediteranea or Ceylonica. Basic names like Seatown, Covesea, Large Town work well though.
     
  24. jigsawkid7
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    jigsawkid7 New Member

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    it's actually the title of an a perfect circle album, and on the cover they have names written in runes all over the album. i was listening to tool while i was writing the post and thought its be funny to use it
     
  25. Chickendancer
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    Chickendancer Senior Member

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    Yeah, I'll go with the Mallory and others here. Keep it simple but not boring. I have written a book with characters from a lot of different countries. To try to get it right I set up a file with a list of different names that were germaine to the characters country of origin. That helps, a lot. As to the other names? I start writing with a base name and let the book tell me if that sounds right or if it needs more punch. Good luck with your writing.
     

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