How do you choose names?

Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Jack Asher, May 12, 2014.

  1. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Mix-matching porn stars is a great source.

    Dick B. Lowe. Rod Long. Truly protagonists bound for stardom.

    And if your work ever has the pleasure of being examined in literature classes, it'll be a great talking point! Especially if you can make them so they're not quite so obvious.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
  2. sleepindawg

    sleepindawg Senior Member

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    Write a mystery novel titled "Antlers in the Treetop" and make the victim a moose by the name of "Who Goosed".
     
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  3. SouthSideDon

    SouthSideDon New Member

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    I'm the opposite of most people. Whenever I come up with a name I really like, I save it to a big list I have with over 400 names. And a lot of times, those names evoke images of characters in my head, and those characters end up evolving into characters with stories, and that's how I get my stories. Then I weave my characters' individual stories together in one big story that works. :) Those are all for main characters, protagonists, and antagonists. When it comes to minor characters that I kill off on the spot or whatever, I just come up with a name on the spot that fits and save my good names for better characters.
     
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  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What a good idea! I've done this for specific stories, but never as an overall 'list.'
     
  5. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Active Member

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  6. MissBadWolf

    MissBadWolf Senior Member

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    I sometimes make up names but I have basically made up only two original names, but the rest are either real names or a word in a different language. Ejijah and Jijiah are my only truly original names.
    I thought I made up Kulay but apparently in another language Is color.
    I also use names from mythology and hopefully open domain stories.
     
  7. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    Elijah is quite a common Jewish name. Isaac Asimov has a character called Elijah Baley.

    Elijah is a prophet in the Old Testament.
     
  8. MissBadWolf

    MissBadWolf Senior Member

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    Oops I forgot that Ejijah was derived from Elijah.
     
  9. The Multiverse

    The Multiverse Member

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    I'm an avidvmanga reader\anime watcher myself. I've noticed quite often villian names, good guy names, and even neutral races all share a twist on themes. A popular seeies dragonball z had villian names like frieza, cooler, and king cold. In a later season the main villians were bibbity, babidi, and buu. There were a group of villuans from a movie that were all named after different spices. You also have rarely used suffixes such as jr and sr. Most american names have a male and female short version. Then names can also be an anagram at which point it wouldn't matter what the full name is because they'd be refered to by that.

    Heros are much the same way. If you're going for a silly feel, think about what sounds like the least likely name for a person thats doing these things. Worse case senario you can always look up old latin names and phrases. Since the english language is rooted there you can also find inspiration in that.

    If none of that helps spin the chair around and without moving from that spot start reading the different things around the room. Boxes, book covers, posters, the twitter scroll on the bottom of the news on tv... The possibilities are endless.
     
  10. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    That's just what Toriyama does in all his manga. He names them after groups of objects. You won't see that in all anime/manga.
     
  11. The Multiverse

    The Multiverse Member

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    You're right. Not all manga or anime has that. However there are enough authors out there that have used it to make worth mentioning.
     
  12. Mr. Raleigh D

    Mr. Raleigh D Member

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    I came up with a perfect, future American common name!!!!!!!

    Sir Dawpo Gonzillionous-Godzilla Triad Square III
     
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  13. Mr. Raleigh D

    Mr. Raleigh D Member

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    What about....

    Six. Six can be the first name!!!!!
     
  14. Xoic

    Xoic Active Member

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    Sometimes I'll watch the credits on a movie for names. This is getting better and better, since these days end credits take ever longer to scroll by. It's a money thing mostly—if the studio gives somebody name credit they don't have to pay them as much. This is why now you see names of truck drivers, hairstylists and worm wranglers in movie credits.
     
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  15. Fervidor

    Fervidor Active Member

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    I listen to the sound of it. Spelling is sorta secondary, there's lots of ways to spell names - I think a lot of writers focus too much on letters, you know, because we tend to use them a lot. Syllables can be replaced and modified as well. It's the sound that matters.

    Sometimes I hear a name with a particular sound and/or rhythm, or one just appears in my head, and then I play around with it. I have a long list of fantasy names I came up with that way.

    For real world names, sort of the same except I'll actually go through lists of names finding ones that sound good. If I come across a name I particularly like, I tend to remember it.
     
  16. Gladiolus83

    Gladiolus83 Active Member

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    That depends on the story. But for my four gods and the four demon kings I based both groups on the four symbols. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Symbols I gave the Japanese names to the gods and the Chinese ones to the demon kings.
     
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  17. OB2611

    OB2611 Member

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    I normally pick one for the protagonist that fits their demographic, so it's realistic. Sometimes I look at census data for this to see popular names in a specific year or country. Then working outwards from there, every name has to sound different enough to avoid confusion for the reader. If they look or sound alike then the reader might get lost, so varying number of syllables and sounds of letters feels like it helps.

    For example if I had a main character called Joanna, I might get her a friend called Cathy, and then another friend called Meg. I wouldn't call them Joanna, Josie and Maisie, though, as that's just name soup. But when you are writing about the world we live in it's surely more simple. I don't know where I'd start in a world I'd created from scratch.
     
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  18. OB2611

    OB2611 Member

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    I didn't know that! Everyday's a procrastinating on this forum school day! Also, great idea to just tax the names. All those parents have already done the work for us.
     
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  19. Uberwatch

    Uberwatch Active Member

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    I have a set of top hundred common names in my head that I take for my choosing. As for giving characters surnames, I tend to pick something Anglo-Saxon/Celtic/Nordic at first, then venture into Central European name (German, Polish, etc.), then name a character with a Japanese surname and sprinkle in Slavic/Arabic/Central Asian on the side.

    Also, biblical names are easy to use. If you're from a Judeo-Christian background, you come up with them unconsciously!
     
  20. Richach

    Richach Senior Member

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    I have a Delia (MC) and a Delinah who plays a minor role. I have a Natasha (MC) and a Nalasha who also has a minor role. Clearly this was never intentional so I am currently changing Delinah and Nalasha to Shaz and Tracey (joke). The joys of editing...

    Beware of unconscious naming @Uberwatch!
     
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  21. OB2611

    OB2611 Member

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    OMG that's so weird, I have twin cousins called Natasha and Nalasha.
     
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  22. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I like my characters to have pretty common names. I'll change around names when I feel I have to, but it's always for just another common name. I think it's more important that the writing be good and that nothing needlessly distracts from that.
     
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  23. PetoiLin

    PetoiLin New Member

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    I search for them on baby naming sites. I also like to know the meaning of the name, even though I don't think it's that important. Most of them just come sooner or later. If it's a character barely seen in the novel, I don't give a lot of attention on what his name will be since I might not remember it myself in some months from now.
     
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  24. Roxanne Clark

    Roxanne Clark Banned

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    All these characters I have once met in a real lofe
     
  25. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Member

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    I'll get my names from anywhere. Songs, real life people the character is (secretly) modeled on, sites with lists of names. As long as the first and last name have a certain rhythym, even if the last name is never mentioned. Gabriel Stone is a character I once had for something that was damned from the start, but the name was perfect. It's usually a three-beat name I go for.
    I try to stay away from alliterating names as that just brings to my mind Stan lee characters.

    That being said, my current protagonist has an alliterating four-beat name.
     
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