1. Magic 8 Ball
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    Magic 8 Ball Member

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    Naming your MC

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Magic 8 Ball, Feb 13, 2009.

    I've always had a huge problem when it came to coming up with names for my characters, but especially my MC. What method do you use when it comes to naming your MC?
     
  2. Chad Sanderson
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    Chad Sanderson Member

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    (I actually had a lot more than this, but then I definitely realized I didn't need it. )

    To be short---

    My advice: Come up with some names, a lot of them. See if they fit the character and you like it. If they do, then see what other people think. If not, scrap it, and try again. Good luck!
     
  3. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I have no method. I pick a name, glue it to my character, and go with it. It's not like it's surgery or anything. :p

    Although I do tend to choose names that I like for the "good guys," and maybe some of my less liked names for the enemies. It doesn't really matter if the names fit or not, because they don't always fit in the real world.
     
  4. cwpcreator
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    cwpcreator Member

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    Depends. If you're writing a story that takes place in the "real world" modern times, then any name will do really. Obviously, you want something more evocative than Bob, but just making it Robert will be enough, in my opinion.

    In my current fantasy novel, the main character is named Faiwyn. It's play off Fair One. There is more leeway and creativity in sci-fi/fantasy with names.
     
  5. Soldato
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    Soldato Senior Member

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    Modern stories, I base names off of country of origin and personality.
    Example: Professional Russian Assassin is named Dimitri Reznovich. Southern SF Operator is named Jimmy Wells, etc.
     
  6. delhi
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    delhi Member

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    Usually the MC should have a name that is easy to remember, and not too hard to "spell" in your mind. It often brings a lot of meaning (it could be named after someone, and as Soldato says, it may represent an ethnicity).

    I usually try to avoid at, and end up inventing strange - and sometimes awful - names like Bersadín and No-zhalú, and in that case I explained that their parents didn't want them to represent any culture (they were half-blood, you may say).

    However, in the particular case of the MC, I usually choose what comes to my mind when first picturing the character. It can be as weird as Bersadín (alias Sad) or as common as Hans, you have to take in account that it will carry that name all along the story. It has to fit him/her, and you have to feel comfortable linking the character and the name, because eventually he/she will shape the idea that you have of that name. You can change it later, but it will be really hard and awkward.
     
  7. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I generally just pick names at random (older names, more often, like Isaac or Asimoth) that I like, and assign the characters the names.
    After having the name for a certain amount of time, the person will just EXUDE the air of that name.

    I had a character whose name I changed, and she STILL feels like her old name. Need more time.

    Video games often have cool names. (I named a character Gilder, from some old video game I don't know the name of)
     
  8. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I usually have characters in mind way before the story, and spend a lot of time thinking it all over, so names tend to just come to me over time if not immediately.

    Other than that I really have no method. I found that, in my current serial, whenever new characters (i. e., ones I hadn't put a lot of thought into previously, like most of my characters) showed up and I had to come up with names fast, I just gave them the first thing that popped into mind. (They were Indian characters so when one ended up named "Tooth," it just made sense. *shrug*) Occasionally I'll give a character a "working name" until I can come up with a more suitable one, but the "working names" tend to stick anyway. Once in a while with newer characters I have to mull over a few names and see which is most suitable, both in terms of sound and meaning (if the character is from a culture where name meaning is important), but that's really all I do. Just come up with a few, then pick the name that sounds and works best.

    My main MC's name was chosen at random from a baby names book. I didn't just pick the first name I saw, but I didn't put a lot of thought into it, either.
     
  9. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    I often find that my characters name themselves. What tends to happen, through brainstorming and writing about a new character, is that certain qualities will begin to emerge and names are drawn from that. I primarily write what would fall into the fantasy genre, though, so it's somewhat easier for readers to accept names like Candle when it's a fairy.

    I've tried various other methods when stuck for a name - baby name sites, random name generators...even looking up certain words in different languages or reading through countless pages of mythological creatures and gods to see if I could draw names from there if something is representative of the character. eg I gave a character the working name of Nyx, the Goddess of the night, because I wanted something that represented darkness. It didn't stick, though - I prefer names that become apparent through getting to know the character, to me they just feel more...right. (That holds true when I write contemporary pieces, as well. Names still speak to traits that have bcome apparent in the character. Examples of that would be one character that I named Ash, and another named Mr Jazz... :))
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no method... the names just come to me... if they don't come easily, i may do a bit of browsing, or name meanings-checking, but that hardly every happens...
     
  11. xenophon22020
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    xenophon22020 Member

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    I usually look at the character first. Who is he? What is the word that defines him? If I think of 'Pure' or 'Evil,' then I might look up names with that meaning and toy with them. Adds a layer of depth to whatever your writing.
     
  12. BlackBear
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    BlackBear New Member

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    I like to give my characters (especially my MC) names that have hidden meanings, such as an anagram or something like that.
     
  13. Dunixi
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    Dunixi Member

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    I just look around on baby naming sites or in books until I find something that grabs me and fits the character and time period.
     
  14. Isitarai
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    Isitarai New Member

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    Sometimes, I give him a similar name to a person who I know who has a similar personality. Some names just randomly appear in my head. But sometimes, no matter how much I love the name, it doesn't work, just doesn't feel right for the character. :(
     
  15. xenophon22020
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    xenophon22020 Member

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    To elaborate from my earlier post:

    An evil person may have the name "Mal," which could be derived from 'Malicious.' Old Greek names make great Sci-Fi names; I have an innocent character who is corrupted, and I named him Akakious, which means Innocent.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I personally dislike names with built-in symbolism, as a rule. The closest I have come to doing that was naming a character Todd because the story centered around his death (The German word for death is Tod). That was one of my oldest short stories, and were I to write it again, I'd have not named him that way.
     
  17. MarkW
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    MarkW New Member

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    I also have trouble coming up with names for my main character, so I usually think of a name first and then create the character from there. I usually start with a rough idea, such as his nationality. I then just search on Google for names from that country, "Italian first names" for example, and a whole list of sites come up with hundreds of names.

    Also, if I'm at a real loss for the name of a minor character, I go to a site I found a while ago. It's names from a US Census, I think. I use these sites and hold Ctrl+F then type in a random number to see what rank it is and use the corresponding name. It sometimes doesn't suit the character I have in my mind though, so this is really a last resort.

    Male first names
    Female first names
    Last names
     
  18. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    Me too. I've also taken lately to naming characters in a way that sounds catchy, or rhymes...but that's only for a more comedic kind of story.
     
  19. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I always feel like names should allude to some other text, or have some symbolic subtext. Although I guess it depends on how naturalistic you want your art to be.
     
  20. mckyle
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    mckyle New Member

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    I'm having a problem with naming myself. Got an evil character who deals with Satan named Dark Stone ATM, but I really do'nt like that =/
     
  21. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I'm trying to be symbolic in my work, I'll search name origins. For instance, a character of mine is really proud of his heritage, so I figured it'd be appropriate if he had a name reflecting it.

    If not, I just choose a name I feel fits the character. I'll use a really ugly name for someone I feel needs to be represented that way. However, names are subjective and what one person feels is ugly someone else might consider beautiful. For that reason, I dont usually put much effort into the name.
     
  22. MCWilliams
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    MCWilliams New Member

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    Main character names, as well as major supporting character names, are extremely important. Think back to all the most memorably characters -- most of them had pretty snazzy names with just the right phonetic flow and mix of vowels and consonants to match the character's personality or demeanor.

    But choosing a name largely depends on the genre (contemporary fiction, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, historical, etc). I can't offer to much help without knowing the genre. Having said that, one rule of thumb I have is to never have a main character or supporting characters with similar sounding names. In fact, I try to avoid having major characters with the same first letters in their names. That just makes it easier for the reader. If you have three characters, "Jack", "Joe", and "Jim" -- well, that might be a problem. Tolkien may have been a literary master, but I can't count the number of people I know who get Sauron and Saruman confused.
     
  23. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    My MCs' names usually just pop in my head like magic. Martin Black, Julie Sparks, Sam Stokes, Darren Brown.

    If I get stuck, I look through name sites, and I consider the character's personality, nationality, and demographics. I always consider those things.
     
  24. St Saint
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    St Saint Member

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    Well, I came up with the name of the main character of one of my main characters Gene Walker by simply thinking of a list of first names, and crossing off the names which sounded outlandish or unfitting. Names like Kyle and Butch were immediately gone because the story is set in the UK, where the names are uncommon. Names like Rolf or Phillipe were taken because he isn't foreign. Oh, and always remember to get a good idea on the parent's personalities before you make the character's name. For instance, some parents will give their child a name after their favourite comic book character if they are slightly nerdy or vain, whilst others just like something snappy. In my opinion, you should always make the character BEFORE the name, as you never want to end up with a character with a completely unfitting name.
     
  25. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    As with most things in my character creation process, it just kinda happens and I work with what I get.
     

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