1. CameronHag94
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    CameronHag94 New Member

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    Name for Protagonist who is a Detective

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CameronHag94, Apr 5, 2016.

    Hi there, this is my first post!

    I'm in the planning stages of writing a Detective story, which is set in 2089 London. The basic premise is that my protagonist, who is around 23, has taken over his father's detective agency after he went missing, he has been doing it for a couple of years. The story opens with him on his way to meet someone who sent him a letter asking to meet, to find that this person has apparently committed suicide, which will open up to a bigger plot, revolving around a notepad he finds in the person's apartment containing the symbol Ψ scrawled in it, and the words Neptune etc.

    Although he has been doing it for a couple of years, he is barely making money, and is still green in the detective field.

    Basically, My question is: What should I name him? I'm trying to get something that rolls off the tongue, but isn't too cliché. I've written down a couple of names, but I'm hoping to get a few more ideas.

    I'm hoping to include his missing father into the plot, so If anyone has any ideas for a name for his father as well, that could be helpful...

    Here are a few of my ideas so far:

    Tanner Frost
    Jack Petty
    Timothy Butler
    Wallace Harper
    Eddie Fordham
    Harry Connors


    Thoughts? Any ideas or tips for naming characters in general would be appreciated. I've got a few characters mapped out, but i'm terrible at naming them, so any rules of thumb would be appreciated.

    EDIT: I should probably give a physical description; he's a white male, early 20s, brown, messy hair. Lives in a poor area, and is quite streetwise. In my head, he's a little like Han Solo if he was more naive, he's a smartass, but he's got a heart of gold, often taking jobs to help people, which adds to his lack of money.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
  2. A man called Valance
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    A man called Valance Active Member

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    Hello CameronHag94, and congratulations on your first post. Though your idea is promising, I wonder if its future setting is a complication you don’t need. I wonder too, how easy it is for a rookie detective to access a possible crime scene and obtain evidence.

    The names on your list are as good as any, but that’s all they are; names. But with a little imagination, you can bring them to life…


    Put yourself behind a desk in swish office. Make yourself nice and comfortable. Light a big cigar if you like. Now look closely at the computer screen on the desk….and you’ll see six young men in the waiting room next door; Tanner Frost; Jack Petty; Timothy Butler; Wallace Harper; Eddie Fordham and Harry Connors. On the face of it there’s little to choose between the young hopefuls that are waiting to be interviewed for the part in your story, so who do you pick? Look closely. Who are the talkers, who’s minding their own business and who keeps looking up at the clock on the wall?


    Have your secretary send Tanner Frost in to see you. What are your first impressions? Is he a smiler, was he confident when he walked in? Has he shaved? What about his clothes, his handshake, his manner? Ask him a question, any dumb question you want, about anything at all, and see how he reacts.


    Do the same with each candidate and I guarantee their personalities will emerge. Besides being a fun exercise to do, it’s a good way of getting to know your character.


    Good Luck
     
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  3. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    All of those names could work. But I could suggest others if none of them feel suitable. Harry Trent. Jeremy Harper. Justin Roland.
     
  4. SadStories
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    SadStories Member

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    Since it's 2089, I vote for Ti|\/|0thy Butl3r or T4nn3r Fr0st.

    (Trying to be funny.)

    In all seriousness, I think Tanner Frost fits the playful style you seem to be going for the best. Deciding the name for your detective is a big deal though, so if nothing strikes you instantly, maybe it's best to keep working with a placeholder name while you chew on it. In any case that's how I do it with names a lot. Let's hope I don't get too attached to anything stupid, lol.
     
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  5. Topaztock
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    Topaztock Member

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    On my film course, we had to write a Film Noir synopsis and for our protagonist, I just changed one of the girls in our group's name to the masculine version (Lauren - Lawrence). She saw the funny side after a hard stare, but it might help you generate some ideas?

    I'm awful at naming characters. They either come to me fully formed or I have to force it out with a book of baby names.

    Whatever you pick for now, you can always change it. If you go with Tanner Frost (though we in the UK do have a famous detective called Frost) initially, if something seems better you can always replace it until it sounds right.
     
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  6. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    2089. 40 years after Russia invaded Finland. Some finns ran to England for asylum, and amongst them Leena and Jouko Waren, the parents of Lawrence Waren, the famous detective of blah blah... and so, diabetes took his life in the age of 74.

    Sorry. Couldn't resist, but giving him immigrant background would be rather interesting.
     
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  7. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    Don't waste your time laboring over character names before you really know who that character is. If it doesn't fit once you're done then change it but for now just call him anything and get to writing. In general, names don't fit people; names will grow to fit a person. They become bound up with the character that is called them. Strong unique characters will feel like they fit Joe Bloggs just as well as Gemini Thrust.
     
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  8. AdDIct
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    AdDIct Active Member

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    I'm sorry the first thing I thought of was Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd century.

    So naturally the name that came to mind was Lockwood.

    Take that as you will.
     
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  9. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    Dirk Gently

    nah just kidding, but you should check that book out, a great one by Douglas Adams
     
  10. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    Dan Ahamelmahey. Just kidding. Joshua Felton.
     
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  11. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    Dick Kickem
     
  12. JD Anders
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    JD Anders Member

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    I find this advice interesting, not because I believe it is wrong in any sense, but because I operate completely differently. Names are essential to my creative process. It's part of who they are and finding the right name is crucial to me. Placeholder names, while a wonderful idea and one I wish I could utilize, drive me absolutely nuts in my writing to the point of being unable to focus on the writing itself.

    Is that a me problem? Most definitely. Just thought I'd share :p
     
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  13. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Names just come easily to me, to be honest.
     
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  14. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    Whenever I've tried using a placeholder name by the time I've finished writing that name feels so apt and bound up with the character that I don't want to change it. Everyone has their own process and I wouldn't suggest changing that but I would also suggest giving yourself a break when it comes to names. We're ok with ludicrous names like Skywalker and Apollo Creed; they've practically entered popular culture despite being terrible in a vacuum. We'll unironically love them because we love the characters.

    In almost every situation the right thing to do is, in so many words, stop dicking around and actually write the damn thing. You don't need a perfect name, you don't even need a good name. You need a good character and that you can only create by actually writing the work.
     
  15. CameronHag94
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    CameronHag94 New Member

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    Thanks for the advice guys, really helpful.

    I've been wondering about the whole "future london" setting. The only reason it's to be in the future, and in London, is because I'm English, and I have never been to any other big cities, such as New York or Los Angeles, and my whole premise is that the skyscrapers and things have gotten incredibly big, and so the rich are living at the very top, whilst the rest live at the base of these towers. 15 years before the story begins, they built 2 steel "ceiling" to keep the poor from coming up and ruining their view, one in the middle, where our hero lives, which isn't *that* bad, and one below which is just a crime riidden hellhole.
     
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  16. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Ooh, sounds interesting.
     
  17. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Bloody funny! :superlaugh::superlaugh::superlaugh:

    Love the play on Duke Nukem.:superlaugh::superlaugh::superlaugh:
     
  18. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    The only name I don't like is Harry Connors. It just doesn't sound detective like at all for some reason. Tanner Frost, and Jack Petty are the best ones. I like Wallace Harper, but not for the MC maybe. Perhaps a supporting police character could have that name?
     
  19. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    Mike Hawke is nice ... for a name. In all seriousness, has anyone grabbed that up as a pen name yet? Wow, there's actually a lot of stuff under that name on kindle. I wonder how many people did that on purpose and how many are just oblivious.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
  20. RahnyJae
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    RahnyJae Member

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    I'm a bit biased because I love J-names, particularly Jack and every variant of it (Jax, Jacqueline, Jackie), so I think Jack Petty rolls off nicely. My vote's for that one if I had to choose. Also, the rhythm of 'one syllable, two syllable/two syllable one syllable' feels tight or firm to me. Some of my favorite names follow that rhythm: Datak Tarr (Defiance), Mal Reynolds (Firefly), James Holden (The Expanse), Fox Mulder (The X-Files.) Having that description definitely helps. I don't know if this is exactly who you see in your mind, but when I hear Jack Petty + the description of him, I imagine something like Finn Wittrock in this particular photo:

    [​IMG]

    Good luck with the naming. You'll know what feels right when it comes down to it. :)
     
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  21. RahnyJae
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    RahnyJae Member

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    I'm kinda like you or maybe worse. Using a placeholder doesn't work for me after a certain point in the writing process. With the very first synopsis and outlines, I can use placeholders like 'Detective Guy,' 'Main Girl,' 'Assistant Dude,' etc, but not actual throwaway names. Then once it's time to start getting into the meat of the story, I spend a lot time looking for the right name and also, the right character photo (which might make worse. :oops:) For some reason I just feel better having a folder of cast pictures of my characters. It helps me to see them in the flesh as close as any real person can be to the idea--from look to personality and style--that I have in my head...plus its just fun to play casting director. lol
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
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  22. Clairity36
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    Clairity36 New Member

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    I've always wanted to use the name Trace in a detective novel as a nod to Dick Tracy and because I think its cheesy enough to actually be catchy. Maybe his dad was an ex cop and his buddies nick named him Trace after he solved a really crazy case with just trace evidence. After a falling out with the police for his dad opened Trace Investigations. Now everyone who calls the firm your MC inherited thinks that he is Trace when they first meet and he has to tell everyone that's his father not him but then he sort of starts to like it and decides to stop correcting people.
     
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  23. CameronHag94
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    CameronHag94 New Member

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    Hi there,

    That's a great idea. I'll definitely think about that, I like the name "Trace Investigations" for the agency name. Thanks for the idea!
     
  24. AndrewA
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    AndrewA Member

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    I can see that happening! Legacy from the farce of the Affordable Housing admendment.

    As for names, Julian Montague or more realistic way things are going to go in this country, Boris Patel.
     
  25. Sidetrack
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    Sidetrack Member

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    How about Dick Slewski?

    Just joking.

    How about Hunter Malone?
     

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