Story Stuff: N Is For Names

Hey, we’re officially halfway through our A-Z series already! I hope you’re still having fun, because I am.

N

Today we’re talking character names. Naming a character seems like it should be easy, but sometimes it takes a lot of Google searching and resulting ads for baby stuff because the interwebs decided that searching for names on a baby naming site = you’re expecting.

ishmaelSettle down, interwebs. Only book babies are happening here.

I’m sure authors have their own procedures for naming characters. Mine is sometimes a little involved. I want to make sure the name I need is appropriate for the time period, so I have to search popular names from whenever the character would have been born and scan lists. I want the name to be unique and memorable but not unpronounceable. I used to have “name dice” on my phone to help when I got stuck – I usually imagine the character and create a personality before the name happens. So I rolled until one “felt” right.

namesFantasy authors have to be more creative, I suspect. In creating whole new worlds on other planets or in different timelines, they can’t exactly name their hero “George.” It makes me think of those silly formulas on Facebook that you can use to find your Star Wars name or whatever (mine is Maral Wrlak). But in real life, as I’m not a fantasy author, I have no idea how they go about creating names from thin air.

So in the interest of learning, I end this brief post with two questions: How do you go about naming your characters?

and

What’s your Star Wars name?  

17 thoughts on “Story Stuff: N Is For Names

  1. I never thought character names were important until I realized mine were dull. Then I looked at a friend’s stuff and saw she usually had interesting names for her characters.

    I started naming characters after the kids in my daughter’s preschool class, since they all had good names.

    I like a good nickname for a character, like Sam for Samantha.

    But now I keep a running list of cool sounding names stored in my computer. Any time I hear a good name, I write a quick note on my phone and email it to myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like you, I research names for certain periods if I’m writing something set in a particular time/location. For example, common American names for a story set in 1920s-1940s New York, or names common in various African countries (which may range from French, English, Dutch, or native).

    I also like Scrivener’s inbuilt name generator, which is handy for when I need names for non-protags.

    As for my Star Wars name: Crola Slurn!

    I sound like a Hutt. 😦

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  3. Pingback: Blogging From A to Z Challenge – Theme Reveal! | Allison Maruska

  4. When I’m drafting, I pick the first name that comes to mind. Sometime during the revision process, and sometimes even while drafting, something sticks as I watch the character idea develop into a person, and the right name seems to find its way into my “copy and paste” formula. Definitely be right for the time though. I actually get distracted when an author has a present-time story with some crazy name for the main character. I just think that they are trying to hard. Most times, I start with the first name of a person the character reminds me of.

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    • I’ve certainly based character appearances on people I know but I can’t use the same name, or the character ends up being that person. LOL
      It’s cool how your characters kind of “grow” a name. When I have to change one it’s quite a mental adjustment for me.

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      • I’ve just come to associate certain first names with certain personality traits. It sounds weird, but it isn’t necessarily one person but rather a group of people I’ve met with similar names, and the emotional impression I get of the name itself. Rebecca says something completely different to me than Amanda or Sue. I sort of just go with that feeling, but it’s often that many people I’ve met with that name share some character trait.

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  5. Three tips that have worked well for me:

    1. Use Scrivener’s Name Generator
    Here’s what it looks like: http://i.imgur.com/W9AfRPJ.jpg

    You can choose starting letters, name origins, gender, etc.

    2. Never end a name in ‘s’, because that can make possessives cumbersome (e.g. Louis’ or Louis’s).

    3. Try not to have two names that start with the same letter. I list them alphabetically (see screenshot) so I can avoid this. However, you can see I’ve violated that rule in my WIP.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That name generator is cool! I’ve used a similar online one but it wasn’t that comprehensive.
      Totally guilty of points 2 and 3. Ending in S was occasionally a problem for Scopes in Drake and the Fliers, but I didn’t worry about it too much since one of my own children has an S-ending name. I use ‘s typically. It’s not too different from making an S-ending noun plural, as far as how they sound.
      I accidentally stumbled into two VERY similar names in my WIP. It was fine when the characters were nowhere near each other, and it took until they were together for me to notice. LOL. I’ll have to change one of them.

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  6. Names are heinous. Not only naming characters but then naming the darn book too.
    With Scripting, I asked for suggestions from my blog readers for the main, then used one for the main and one for her friend.
    For the murder mystery that died, I let my son name the main character. LOL. So Ventress was the girl, she went by Tess. I did a bunch of research to explain the name, old English family name.
    For my spy novel I used a bunch of random stuff. Like the woman got her code name because from a piece of art that was the ideal of feminine beauty at one point.

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