1. *Katie
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    *Katie Member

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    Problems with characters names.. please helpp.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by *Katie, Jul 26, 2012.

    Okay, so here's my problem. When I name a character it has to be perfect. It has to match how I
    want them to look, their age, their personality, the culture, everything. And it always takes forever to find the PERFECT name. It literally took me 2 weeks one time to find the right name. And I really cannot stand searching hours upon hours on google or baby name websites. Ecspecially if I'm working on a distopian fiction peice. And I know I could just substitute it with GirlA or something along those lines, but, the thing is, I can't write about the character unless it has that perfect name. I've tried but it just doesn't work, because it will bother me the entire time I'm trying to write. So I was wondering if anyone had a trick to finding perfect names. Thanks :)
     
  2. I Am Vague
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    I Am Vague Active Member

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    Hey, Katie.

    Okay so here's how i look at it. Names are important, and you can pick and choose your favorites, it's your novel. Whatcha got to pay attention to is what i call "attachment" to the name. For some reason i find myself not able to complete drastic or subtle changes in the character for the worse. Whether they get hurt, disappoint the audience, or get themselves killed, the name is a barrier to me. It prevents me from writing a realistic tale when the perfect name is set on a good person that i don't want anything to happen to.

    Also! it really doesn't matter what the character's name is, only what their actions are. That is what tells people who they are, the cooltastic name is just a bonus. Honestly you couldn't tell me that the name "Jack Torrence" or "Ponyboy" was going to be remembered in the beginning XD

    My advice is, just pick a couple names that you can settle for and write out the story. You'll find that what they do is really what counts. And, hey, you can always go back and change 'em in the end.

    Hope this helped somehow. I have a habit of replying with unnecessarily long answers. Sorry bout that.
     
  3. MeganHeld
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    MeganHeld Senior Member

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    Go to a baby naming website and try to find names based around qualities or values your character has. That is how I do it.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Think about why you absolutely have to have the name first. When I used to do this I noticed it had
    become my crutch. I thought the name formed the character - when the opposite is true - develope
    the character and the perfect name will come. ( That isn't to say you can't have a name first - which I've
    done - but it's less flexible. It's like buying a doll-dress before the dolly. Now the dolly must suit the dress
    not the dress suit the dolly. )

    The desire to find the perfect name also reared it's head when I found my characters resembling
    other characters , I admired.
    I was determined to make them as special or more so. But names won't do that - only their
    actions , traits , dialogue - all the hard stuff, will.
     
  5. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Remember that what is important is the reader's reaction to the name, not yours.

    We are all influenced by the people we have know or read about with those names or vaguely similar ones. But I think of Barbara or Marcie or Aimee pr Bronwyn or Magda or Gwendolyn differently than you do.

    If the name helps you write the character, fine. But don't let your image of the person who goes with the name in your mind get in the way of actually making the reader see them that way.
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find that just like with real people, the name grows to suit the person. Eventually, even if the person is the complete opposite of what you previously associated with the name, you can't imagine them having any other name.

    So, I'd go ahead with writing with a name you think is at least acceptable (rather than getting paralyzed before even writing). At the end, if you still don't like it, FIND & REPLACE is your best friend.
     
  7. DomTheDoxx
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    DomTheDoxx Member

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    I Have to disagree with this. What i'll usually do is either be HIT by a name and build my character accordingly as i make the outline, or i'll choose a name that i really like, and build the character to suit it. Mostly what happens is that i'll make the name first, and traits will fly through my mind, and those that don't suit the character will just sift through and be lost, but certain traits that are irrefutable will stick.
     
  8. luna claire
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    luna claire Senior Member

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    I have the same problem sometimes. I'll start off with one name and then change it because it's not perfect. Have you tried keeping a baby name book handy? There are also books that have first names and last names listed with meanings. In the end, it's the character that will make the name memorable.
     
  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    This has only happened to me twice - it could be preference, but I found this was the hardest. ( Though to be honest they are my favorite, but most misunderstood characters.)

    I had my plot in place , vague ideas of heroines , villians and side characters - named them all before I fleshed them out -
    this was especially hard to do because I picked names never before used, which started them off as a total blank -
    nothing to get in the way , yes, but also, nothing to lean on.

    Maybe it's a genre thing - fantasy/ surrealism seems to provoke me to find a name first - the gothic
    sounding Wakelyn came before her story. It does happen.

    I guess it's a case for whatever works for you.
     
  10. Jamie Senopole
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    Jamie Senopole Member

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    I do the same thing. I have a book by Sherrilyn Kenyon, called The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook. It categorizes names by culture/country, then it list male and female names with their meanings. It also describes and gives examples of how they use surnames, so you could name your character appropriately with how it would've been done with their customs.

    Then there are times where I am looking through lists of names and something catches my eye, but not for a particular character. I have made a names list on my cpu and categorized it by nationality, or being (for fantasy novels), and included the meaning for it, so I can go back and possibly find something I like for another character.
     
  11. sonja.arbogast
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    sonja.arbogast New Member

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    Dystopian names can be fun. You can use all sorts of random things for naming traditions. Use old car models, if you want. And, as much as you might hate it, baby name books are great resources for names. A little research never killed anyone.
     

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