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Author Topic: Favorite Character Names
Member # 9510

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What are your top 5 character names? And why do you like them? I am a believer that the sound and appearance of a name will connote certain attributes of a character. I think JK Rowling was sort of a master of name creation. It would be hard to be suspicious of a character named "Dumbledore" his name seems to approachable, quirky, and well-intentioned. Severus Snape, however, seems sneaky to me.

What do you do when creating names? Scour baby-names encyclopedias? Use themes, e.g. all great mythological names? Or do you have some other mechanism for coming up with your character names?

Sometimes I feel like all my characters are named "Matt", "Jessica", "Eric", etc. etc. And that's not very interesting to me.

Then again, in a contemporary suspense story, a character named "Aragon" would really seem out of place at his local law firm.

It is hard to me to strike a balance between "this name is recognizably easy to read and appropriate for the setting" and "this name is rich, unique, and full of flavor."

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Member # 3233

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I write an idea a day so I use a whole lot of names.I got over favorte names fast.

Now I generally will decide on a first letter then come up with a name from that. I will spell the same sounding name many different ways Gather, Geather. Gother, Gothar, Gothor, as an example. My only rule is that it can be sounded out easily. Anything can be a name depending on the society of the story idea I am working on at the moment.

In the story I am working on now, which is a future super hero story, I am simply choosing the first letter and making it sound out. I did have to change the female names because they all sounded similar after the first letter...

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Crystal Stevens
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I don't know how many of you still get phone books, but I find that a good source for names. Of course I interchange the first and last names so they don't refer to anyone in the book .

Personally, I like books and stories that don't use a sinister name for a villian or a heroic name for the... well... hero. After all, none of us get to choose our names, only our parents. Of course, nicknames is a whole nuther ballgame .

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Robert Nowall
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Well, in my very first story intended for publication, I came up with a last name that pleased me so much I used it, over and over again, for about twenty years, not in every story, but in enough. Haven't used it lately in a story...did give the name to my recent wireless network, though...
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Member # 8937

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As long as I don't have to work for the entire story trying to figure out how to pronounce the names, then they are good ones. That's how I handle names when I do write something. Hard to find time lately with school, kids, work, job hunting, etc..
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Member # 9148

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Some of my favorites names are the newer ones. Like Brittany, Chelsea, Kyle and a few others I can't think of right now. So I can have characters in three different stories with the same name.

But I sometimes wonder about using my name and those of my daughter and wife.

Oh, perhaps I should have said currently popular names not new. Some seem to be new but others are just popular at the moment.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited October 08, 2011).]

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Member # 8586

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I use names I secretly love but A)cannot with a clear conscience saddle a child with that name or B)my husband refuses to acknowledge the awesomeness of the name I have chosen and won't let me use it on any kid we may have in the future.

If my oldest daughter had been a boy, her name would have been Rhys. I've since decided that Rhys in its American form (Reese) is way too common, so I'm not going to use it on a baby, but I did use it for a male MC in a novel. I love Kai (pronounced "Kye" not "Kay") for a girl, but the husband isn't a fan, so the name went to the female MC in that same novel.

I love the name Finneas... but the nickname "Finn" will NOT work with my last name.

My other two methods are to go through name websites until I find names or to sort of meditate on it until a name pops out of the mists of my brain. The first method is much more effective, but the second is the one I tend to use for the MC.

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Member # 5512

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I make up the names of my characters. That way I can never be distracted by: "I know someone with that name. I'm worried I will create the characters according to that person."

Important characters have names right from the beginning of the plot, minor characters' names are picked from storage I keep.

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Member # 8892

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I usually opt for names that have a nice ring to them. Since I primarily write fantasy I get to experiment a lot.
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Member # 8547

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I use Aran for a lot of my young protagonists. Always liked the name. Some of my other favorite names are weird but I love them just because the characters they were first attached to were so awesome.

Calein is a roguish swordmaster who's never lost a duel and never takes anything seriously.

Dirival is an honorable young warrior who does the right thing and fights hard to protect the people he loves.

Marbrand is an old veteran whose face was badly burned in a fire years before while fulfilling his duty, giving him his name.

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Member # 2807

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My favorite character name is Smaug.

Just kidding. In answer to the question at hand, I often pick names out of phone books. For fantasy characters, I make up names, though I'm not so good at it. I'm terribly disappointed for example with my main evil character's name in my first novel, but I'm having a hard time thinking of another name.

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Member # 9148

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Speaking of names... for those who don't read the Random Musings thread.


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Member # 7977

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I sometimes use fantasy name generators for inspiration. If you generate a few hundred, even though most of them are crap you can pick out a few that work, or can be tweaked and work.

I've had some success and fun with tweaking relatively standard names. My latest short story had a protagonist named Alak, and somehow the supporting character became Srii. They just worked.

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Member # 9096

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Writing YA/MG, I tend to do a few things:

Tweak common names, but keep them accessible, and hopefully cool.

If applicable, pick names that sound like the character's characteristics (I agree JK Rowling was fab at this - Umbrage, Sprout, Snape, etc.)

Keep the names generally short (I always find myself glossing over long names anyway, just kinda saying 'oh, that guy' in my head).

And I think it was OSC who said stories read faster if each character name starts with a different letter of the alphabet (I always got turned around with all of Bujold's Vor-named characters). So, I might have a Mary, but not a Mary, Marty, Martha and Maxine unless I consider them as one composite character (like Crabbe and Goyle sort of).

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Member # 2807

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My son likes to spell names backwards or rearrange letters of common words to get his character names. Dap Esuom, for example, is mouse pad spelled backwards. Some work, some don't.
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Member # 8612

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I am a recent convert to the "Everchanging book of Names" a fantasy name generator. Doesn't work so good for contemporary names, absolutely brilliant for everything else:


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