1. Hyperior29

    Hyperior29 New Member

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    How do you come up with names for you character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Hyperior29, Jun 17, 2021.

    I can't come up with any names for my characters? I mean i do, but then I am not really sure if they fit. Do you have any ideas how you can get a name to stick?
     
  2. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Contributor Contributor

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    I google things like "unusual surnames Russia" for example with my Russian soldier character. I also look for names from all around me. I watch football, so I love looking through the wiki pages of national football teams for names of characters that come from that country. (I've also started doing it for other sports when I fail to find a name I like)
    Using those two specific methods, I came up with Moroccan-born Rasil "Raz" Kadir for my private investigator (for the first name I googled Moroccan names, second name was a Moroccan international footballer. I wanted something specifically punchy, with a one-syllable first name and two-syllable surname, like Han So-lo. Raz Ka-dir.) And I came up with Milan Kalakov for my Russian soldier (first name coming from a Czech ex-Liverpool player called Milan Baros, and the surname Kalakov from that google search. I liked the multiple K's in it, and it sounding like Kalashnikov without reminding people of the gun. Milan is also an unusual first name, it's why I remember Mr.Baros so strongly. So I thought if it stuck with me, it will other people.)
    I also take names from other people I see, know, or read about on the internet. One of my female protagonists is called Liv Rademaker. Rademaker is the surname of a fellow cgi modeller I've been in contact with in the past. It also fit the specifics of the cultural demographic of where she lives in my books. If the name fits the story location or setting of the people that inhabit the place, that sometimes helps it feel good too.

    A good name usually sounds memorable the first time you hear it or after saying it for a day or so, at least for me. If it doesn't really feel like it fits or 'zings' after a couple of days, I'll keep looking.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021
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  3. Thomas Larmore

    Thomas Larmore Active Member

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    I have no idea how names come to me. They just do.
     
  4. Terbus

    Terbus Member

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    Currently Reading::
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    It depends on the story. I've used many different techniques when naming characters, but I've never settled on using just one. I'll list them, and talk about how knowing when a name fits.
    My standalone novels center around specific subjects (arctic exploration and high altitude mountaineering, respectively). I cut apart and combined the names of different historical figures in those areas to name the major characters and picked period typical names for the others. Examples would be Francis Hillary and Owen Wild, the protagonists of the two mentioned novels. Francis shares a last name with one of the first two known man to have summited Everest and a first name with one of the men lost well descending the Matterhorn after it was first summited. Owen shares his last name with Frank Wild (second to Shackleton) and a first name with Owen Chase, first mate of the Essex.
    The characters of my historical mystery series have names common it their time. I had a difficult time naming many of them, and am still not happy with some of the last names chosen. On the other hand, two of the characters have held their names since being created.
    Truthfully, I don't think there's a single way to go about naming characters. When a name fits it fits, and you should never feel bad about deciding to change a name.
     
  5. SapereAude

    SapereAude Senior Member

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    I sometimes have a name just pop into my head. Other times, I use web sites for, say, "Female Hungarian names" or "male Scottish names."
     
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  6. Lazaares

    Lazaares Senior Member

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    I've a largely Germanic-sounding fantasy setting. For given names, I simply look at the most popular German names in the 19th century. All I ensure is that characters seldom have the same initial. I wouldn't feature Ute, Udo, Ulrich and Ula in the same room.

    For last names, I use the same "technique" Ashkenazi Jewish people had when forced to take up family names in the late 18th century. A mixture of toponyms, relevant professions and misc terms in German.

    The latter can be easily used for any fantasy world because it's a historical technique. If used in English, it can create names like Blackwood, Miller & Hartington.
     
  7. lady_rivers

    lady_rivers New Member

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    For important characters, I try to find names that fit their age range and general background. Then I just write down all options and go with the one I think sounds better. I tend to avoid having the last name start with the same sound as the first, so they don't get mushed together.

    I often use https://www.behindthename.com/ for that. When it's a random character, I go to https://www.babynamegenie.com/ and click on make a wish.
     
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  8. Andrew Hope

    Andrew Hope Member

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    I don't generally concern myself too greatly with names. Most people in real life don't have names that are anything to do with who they are, unlike the past where a last name would indicate something important, like a profession. The important thing for me is character. After that, when I go looking for a name, I try to find something that sounds good to my ear, maybe 2-3 syllables long for first and second name. I don't want to go too common or too unique. A non-Western English name conveys some kind of family backstory, which I find interesting in real life. Sometimes, if I want to play around with metacontext, I'll use the name of a fictional character if my piece is similar to that work. For example, in my current piece, a time-travel story, my protagonist is named Jason Soames - Enoch Soames was the name of a time travel story written in 1895. Sometimes I will llok to create a name that IS reflective of a character. About 20 years ago, I wrote an action screenplay where the hero was very laid back, but very good and efficient in terms of his actions in the story. I named him Dylan Cutler. Dylan for Bob Dylan, and Cutler, because it sounds like "cutter". And it also just had 2 syllables for first and last name, and I thought it sounded good.

    A name could be meaningful to the character herself, especially if they consciously change their birth name for a specific reason, thus that choice creates a little more depth and complexity to the character.

    Outside of realism, YMMV.
     
  9. Vanna Heller

    Vanna Heller Active Member

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    I google a name generator sometimes, but I usually pick a name that means something to the character. For example, my MC's horse's name means "warrior" because its master is a warrior.
     
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  10. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I think if you're writing stories set in actual historical or contemporary settings, your names need to fit the time period or locale. But if you're writing fantasy or sci-fi that isn't too 'recent' earth-based, you can go your dinger.

    One of the most prolific name-generator authors I've ever encountered is Jack Vance. I think he had a great deal of fun with that aspect of his writing, and it shows. Some of his names are nearly unpronounceable; others fit perfectly, and many of the unpronounceable ones still became strongly indentified with the characters. It is his sense of fun with names that made his 'naming' stand out ...and made his stories fun to read.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
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