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  1. boesjwoelie

    boesjwoelie Member

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    naming

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by boesjwoelie, Mar 19, 2010.

    Naming my characters has always been a big problem for me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
    But just now I discovered a (more or less) new method for this, and is was nothing short of a breakthrough for me :D

    I listed as many characteristics of the character, and looked up as many synonims as I can. From this I started to combine them, change them and all that.
    I came up with 3 new names in under 15 minutes ^^

    Hope this helps anyone :p
     
  2. Strawberry Kitten

    Strawberry Kitten New Member

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    Thats one way of doing it. I might try that.
     
  3. Midnight_Adventurer

    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

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    That's certainly an interesting way of doing that; character names are always so fiddly! I'm really picky when it comes to names they have to be just right. Usually I think about what my character is going to be like and then base a name around that e.g.: In my latest novel one of my main characters is called Addison because it's a strong and slightly unusual name like her, sounds a bit corny I know but it works for me :)
     
  4. Mila

    Mila Member

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    I write fantasy that is either Celtic or Norse-based, so generally I'll think of a word that fits the character and look it up in that language and change it slightly.
    E.g., cailleach means witch in Gaelic. Take off last two letters and you have Caillea - a perfectly nice name for a lovely lady who happens to know magic, haha
     
  5. Nilfiry

    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Am I the only one that does this naming thing opposite of everyone else? I often come up with a name, and then describe the character based on the image I get from the name.

    For example, my username, Nilfiry, gives me an image of a cute, effervescent young girl with long black hair.

    Of course, if I come up with a character's traits first, then sometimes I just throw together some good sounding syllables and go with that. :p
     
  6. Anonym

    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Having been confined to the world of hard sci-fi as of late, i try to keep my names as realistic as possible, while still being 'unique', personally. Even then, I've had to consciously disengaged from the formulaic predictability of using more 'interesting' names such as Vincent, Cyrus, Leon, ect for main characters, & Bob, John, Mike, ect for lesser characters. it becomes a bit grating after a while. Otherwise, names don't mean much (imo) & more than anything, giving ur MC's an epicly awesome name, & everyone else comparatively mundane names can come off as a bit messianic. just meh thoughts.
    but yeah, again, names don't mean much to me. a joe can be just as intriguing & charismatic as a captain mcawesomeheroguy. a rose by any other whatever & whatnot.
     
  7. black-radish

    black-radish Senior Member

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    Yeah, my main character has also a name that links back to her traits! It's a good way of naming, and people just imagine her exactly the way she is by hearing her name! It's great!
     
  8. thecommabandit

    thecommabandit Member

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    This is an okay way of naming as long as you don't go too far with it. And bear in mind that people are given names at birth (excepting when you write about a culture that gives names later). Any traits that names imply would be ones that the parent would have wanted their child to possess (or already have observed that they possess) at that early stage. In real life, many parents pick out names before a child is born. And most names are selected for sound rather than meaning. By all means use those baby names sites, but only to select names from certain cultures and of certain sounds. Going to a huge amount of effort to select an ordinary name that is thematically fitting for your character is pointless - you can't presume that the reader will know the meaning. And as always, the name needs to fit with the culture that the character is from. A person with a southern drawl called Shiga Namasaki is jarring unless you've got some kind of rational explanation for it.
     
  9. s.knight

    s.knight Banned

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    Name is very important. It gives vital insights into character background, personality etc.

    I mean, how many welsh coal-miners are called Walter?
    Could you imagine a Walter down a grimy pit hacking at the coalface?
     
  10. black-radish

    black-radish Senior Member

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    It's just.. when you hear a name, for example:

    Roxy

    I think about a tall girl with red or chessnut hair, tied back in a beautifull knot. Who wears tight tank tops and leggings, perhaps is a jazz ballet teacher for children? a bit of a flirt, man adore her.

    when people hear a name, they often link it back to something. For example, people with unisex names as "alex" or "chris" are often seen as adventerous but not very manly/feminine.

    People with masculine names like "hank": people often assume they're good at something like plumbing or carpeting.

    It's psychology, you can't really help it, people just hear a name and they immediatly have this feeling with it. Ofcourse, along the way, the personality of your character becomes clear and this just leaves us with the debate of how important first-impressions are. :)
     
  11. KP Williams

    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Actually, that seems quite fitting to me. I'm not slamming on any Walters out there or saying you should be a coal miner, but to me, it just sounds like a name well suited to some kind of laborer or handyman. The image that pops into my head first is that of a construction worker or electrician.

    I'm not picky about naming characters. I really couldn't care less what the name means; half the people reading the story will never know in their entire lives what the names mean, and most of the rest probably wouldn't care even if they did know. The only thing I care about is how it sounds. As long as it sounds right for that particular character, and as long as I don't despise the name, I'm happy. A girl with amazing supernatural powers? Let's call her Taylor. A secretive mystic with a mission? Let's call her Paige. An insatiably curious telepath? How 'bout Allana?

    Really, the only character I've given a name that has symbolic meaning is Taylor, and that wasn't intentional. I'd been calling her Taylor for almost a year before I figured it out. And even now, I don't know what any of those three names really mean, nor do I have any desire to change that. I just like them, so I used them. Couldn't be simpler, and it completely avoids the headache so many writers seem to have with coming up with names. To be honest, I can't understand what's so difficult about it. :p
     
  12. black-radish

    black-radish Senior Member

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    well I always use sites for babynames, but I scroll from page to page untill I find a name that I feel resembles my character.

    But I stick to what I said before, every name has an impression that tags along with it.. But isn't it up to the writer to tear this stereotype name image and create something wonderfully new out of the burning ashes? :)
     
  13. VivienLee

    VivienLee New Member

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    Character Names?

    I Always have difficult time naming Characters. Only the ones who are important to me, by this I mean those whose personalities mirror the people who are in life. How do you go about naming characters??
     
  14. jacklondonsghost

    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    It depends on what kind of story it is. For a story set in the real world, I think it's helpful to check out the Census reports online and see what names were popular at the time your character was born. Not that you should automatically pick the name that tops that list, but it helps to see which names actually existed, and when they came into use.

    Last names, use the phone book. It's free, and basically unlimited.

    I tend to give my characters names that BARELY hint at personality. Nothing blatant though. EX: I have a character named Jason (goes by Jay) Brewer. Jason, as in the Greek hero, and Brewer because he struggles with alcoholism throughout the story.

    Also, consider the family the character comes from. My character Matthew Reilly comes from an Irish-Catholic family, so him and all of his siblings are named after saints.

    One more thing: make sure you read the name out loud, first name, middle name, and last name all together, to make sure it's not clunky sounding.
     
  15. JTheGreat

    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    I do the exact same thing, except Nilfiry gives me the image of a more pixie-ish girl, slender and a bit Alice Cullen-esque. The suffix "-firy" also makes me think of a red-haired girl.

    I also enjoy giving characters ironic names, such as how Mello from Death Note was anything but. But if the character is REALLY minor, I have a list of names I really like at hand, and craft the characters to fit the names.
     
  16. Smelnick

    Smelnick Member

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    In most stories that I write, I come up with real names. So maybe a name like Gregory, or Jerry etc. The last names are always harder for me. I try to use variations on names I've seen in real life and stuff.

    As far as fantasy, scifi alien names go, I just string some syllables together.
     
  17. Aeschylus

    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    Names are secondary for me; they aren't that important to the story. But I like to think of a name that flows well and has a good sound; it needs to sound like the character.
     
  18. Show

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I ever have trouble with Naming, I just look at name lists. Usually character names don't come THAT difficult for me.
     
  19. Thanshin

    Thanshin Active Member

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    I name my characters aaa, bbb, ccc, etc.

    Eventually, when I know them better and everything else is done I replace the letters with names I like, trying to remember that people don't know what their children will be when naming them, so I don't mind calling a brutish wrestler, Archibald or an intellectual bookworm, Mongo Skullcrusher.
     
  20. jeanne

    jeanne Member

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    I'm not into name that reflect character's personality. Let's get straight, your parents named you since you were born, though, your personality developed years later. How could your parents know what kind of person would you be?
     
  21. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Very true, but Archibald will grow up. I'm sure he will call himself something more like Arch Nemesis when he first decides to step into the ring.

    As for Mongo - someone PLEASE call DSS on his parents. Naming a child Mongo is just plain abusive! Of course, Skullcrusher is a honorable family name for generations of meatpackers from the old country.
     
  22. MedleyMisty

    MedleyMisty Member

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    I go to behindthename and look up meanings. The dude in my avatar, the villain of Valley and the main character of 10 - his name is Seth Morrigan. I looked up names with death in the meaning. : )

    Lately though I've just been making up names. I needed a name for a bully in 10 last night and asked my husband for the name of a mean boy he went to school with.
     
  23. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd vote for naming the character based on the expectations that the character's parents, or whoever named the character, would have had. Even if that turns out to be a name that the character simply wouldn't tolerate later in life, I'd choose the parent-chosen name, and then consider that when choosing the nickname or other variation that the character later chose for themselves.
     
  24. CaptainMcNeil

    CaptainMcNeil New Member

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    I use the random name generator at behindthename.com. I'm good with past names, but first names are impossible!
     
  25. Melanie Dawn

    Melanie Dawn New Member

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    I think of people I knew from my own past who may have similar personalities/characteristics and use their first name. I use the phonebook to find last names.
     

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