1. ThinkingCliché
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    ThinkingCliché New Member

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    Naming Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ThinkingCliché, Apr 11, 2012.

    Do you ever find that you come across a name of a character in a novel that just sounds out of place? I know I have, so I was wondering do you flick through 1000 baby names and whatever your finger lands on is going to be the name? Maybe you use one of your friends names and change it later or you really just don't give it a second thought? So I guess what I'm saying is do I need to worry about what a charcters name is?
    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    I tried picking names blindly from a list until I ended up with 5 people in a room with dialog commenting & laughing at the fact their names all started with "M". I changed the names and rewrote the chapter.
     
  3. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    I think this topic has been covered in numerous threads, but I'm not quite sure what you're asking - do you want to know how people come up with character names, or whether character names matter at all?

    Yeah, I think character names matter, but it's really up to the author to come up with them. Some people collect interesting names they come across and stick them in a file for future use, some people trawl baby name sites - I tend to scan academic publications to find the names of real people who lived in my time period. Sometimes I change em slightly, but as it was over 3000 years ago I doubt any of them will mind ;)
     
  4. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    You've been around a long time. Or are you saying the time period you're writing about?
     
  5. Sam M
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    Sam M Member

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    I wouldn't use names that aren't age/era appropriate (don't write a modern day novel with a name that was popular during the 1800's). Also, don't use "loaded names" (names of celebrities/famous people), readers instantly connect that name with the celebrity, instead of your character.

    Make multiple character names phonetically different (eg. don't have shane, sean, sam and steve) and pronounceable.

    Other than that, shouldn't be too much issues
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Names do matter, and you should settle on them quickly, because they tend to stick. If you start calling a character Smith, thinking it's just a placeholder name, and write a chapter or two about him, he'll forever be Smith in your imagination. You probably won't be able to change his name because you've associated the name with the character in your own mind. The name is him, he is the name, and trying to change his name later on will have terrible effects on the character.

    Get the name set in your mind early - EARLY - on. That's my advice, anyway.
     
  7. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    In my novel I have Nefret, Nafrit, Neferure and Nefretnosretnektyamun - I think I just broke all your rules :D

    But Nefer (beautiful) was a very common name/prefix in ancient Egypt, so I use it accordingly. I have read novels set in ancient Greece where everyone is called Philip, because it was just a pretty damn popular name back then ;)
     
  8. rubisco
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    rubisco Member

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    I agree with Minstrel, names tend to stick once assigned. I wrote a story where I used a name for a character, decided it just didn't fit, and I tried to change the name to a more fitting name, but in my mind it the character still had the original name and the new name seemed out of place.

    In general, I enjoy picking names that are more unique than common (like not john smith or joe peterson). Sometimes I pick names that are somewhat symbolic of the character. For one of my stories, I picked the name Victor Lutz because the character always thought he was a victor (which he wasn't, he was actually quite a fool), so for the last name I picked Lutz, which rhymes with klutz.

    Another story I picked the name Isadore, and only once during the story I refered to his last name, Gnob. So together his name was Isadore Gnob= Is a doorknob. I did it purely because I thought it was funny, but the other people in my writing workshop class thought it was super symbolic and deep. One of my best memories of those workshops was people trying to tie in the pun of the name with some deeper meaning of the story:)
     
  9. W. E. Burrough
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    W. E. Burrough Member

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    If I need a name and can't think of one I usually google a list of names from a specific country. More often than not I derive names from stories, history, or the people around me. Take Billie-Ray Ruth Craven for example, Billie is the name of my aunt, Ray is from her father's love of country music, Ruth is my grandmother's middle name and Craven is a nod towards Billie's lust for power. Morgan K. Faires I got from Morgan le Fey, Faires, fairies. I thought it was clever. Anyways, I named her as such because she shares quite a few traits with that sorcerous of old.

    Honestly, yes, you do need to worry about characters' names. If you've got a guy named Karisstiniokalkos and his best friend is named Bob, you'll come off as incompetent. Though, it depends on the world I guess. In a fantasy world like Lord of the Rings you won't see a bro named Stan walking around handing out booze.
     
  10. MeganHeld
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    MeganHeld Senior Member

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    I use baby name databases and pick a letter I want. Then I just try to choose a name from that. Sometimes I ask family and friends for character names. Names are not that important, unless you want that person to signify something.
     
  11. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    Many threads deal with names.

    I use time period specific names. When I write about a human in the middle ages, I look for names of that period and pick one that sounds good.
    I use race specific names too. An elf named Benard is ok for the "Santa Clause", but would not be too real in a Fantasy story based in the middle ages.

    Baby name books are good for modern names, they are what is common now.

    Also names from the orient might not be too common in Africa when there is limited travel. ie no railroad, no long distance & safe ship travel. But in the 20th century, travel is common, so an caucasion woman named Juanita (Spainish/Mexican oriented name) born in 1940's in Ohio was very possible.(using my Mother as an example.)
    Also if hostilities exist during the time a person would be born, names tend not to be oriented to the country of hostilities. German oriented first names were probably not common during the world wars.

    Like I have said on all the name threads, don't name characters based on what they are now unless its a nickname. People are named when they are babies, so more then likely it won't be anything close to what they do as an adult, unless predestined at birth.
     

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