How do you all go about naming your characters? 35 pages into a story and I still don't have the "right" name for my lead character? What do you all do?
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I guess. I know a lot of people spend time trying to come up with a good name but I don't think I ever spend more than a few minutes.
Sometimes taking a step away from the work itself and then returning may help bring a new perspective.
Character names usually come to me pretty quickly but if they don't then I don't panic. I've written entire drafts with my protagonist simply called Prot as a place holder, I also find the crew credits of films to be a fantastic source of character names.
I guess the important thing is, don't get hung up on a name as that can really screw up your productivity, put in a place holder and continue with your story, you don't really need the name until it's ready for others to read.
The character tells me their name. Or more accurately I overhear them telling another character in the story their name. While writing scenes, characters will make introductions or have a fight or conduct business but somewhere within the framework of the story each character's name will be mentioned, I just have to pay attention.
I actually choose an actor that I see playing the part and use their name. It allows me to channel their vibe. If the names sticks, I leave it. If it doesn't, a better name usually comes to me by the time I'm finished.
Usually my characters introduce themselves by their first name, or one walks in, and I think, "That's Tamsin." For surnames, I often google surname sites, especially if I want an American or British or Celtic surname, for example. Nice idea, Jonathan.
You know what I often do? I go through my Facebook friends/feed until I find a first name I like, and then do the same until I find a last name I like that goes with it. Needless to say the name has to work for the character, it's not just names I like. Works every time. =D
Coming up with character names, for me, is the hardest part about writing. There's two things I try to do when it comes to this subject. 1. Have the name mean something, or name the character after someone with the traits my character has. 2. Just come up with a random name that sounds "cool". Online there are name generators that I use some times, at least to get me thinking, or I open up a phone book. The first name I point to I'll take the first name. I'll do it again, and the name I put to I'll take the last name.
I think about who the parents are. After all, they're the ones that (usually) named the character. Then I usually check the name popularity lists for various years. So if the parents were relatively conservative and the character was born in 1983, no reason that character isn't a Michael or Matthew. If they were crazy hippie types and the character was born in '72, that's another story. Were the parents immigrants? If so, from where, and were they more interested in assimilating, or in instilling in their child a sense of cultural identity. And, BTW, thinking about a character's parents is a pretty useful exercise anyway. Is the character a rebel? A conformist? What are they rebelling against or conforming to? Knowing who raised them can aid in your understanding of who they are. That said, your character may be self-named, or named by, say, their peers. Well okay... what kind of name would THOSE namers come up with? I love naming, and unlike Dan can often spend significant time refining the names of major characters.
I guess when you have a name as cool as "Randa Karambelas" you take names for granted...I have a "baby names" app on my iPhone, if I ever get stuck with a certain characters name-- click touch tap and I have a bunch of names to get the mental engines running.
It's hard and even harder is making sure every characters names don't start with the same letter. So, go down the alphabet and use your instincts, the characters do speak to you. Good luck.
I don't see an issue with some character names starting with the same letter but they shouldn't be similar or sound similar.
Unless the characters names are a direct reflection of who they are in some way, I pick a name I like and move on. Sometimes for fun I use the names of people I know (main character of what I'm working on now is after my daughter) but for the most part I don't think it's something to obsess over. Because I don't think it matters that much.
I'm writing a couple scifi scripts, and through my journeys, I've had most of the character names just flow on the pages. Don't get me wrong, i did go through several hundred in my head, but I chose them and kept writing. Just think of the protagonist and ask yourself if my movie characters become action figures would anyone buy the hero character if his name was "GAYLORD Q. TINKLEDINK" ?