Character names. Hard or easy for you to come up with?

@Awinds (2475)
United States
September 5, 2011 12:53am CST
A name is of the most important facets of a character. A name is an indicator and can carry much meaning and impact. For some writers (like me) coming up with and deciding on names for characters is a laborious process. You want the name to be perfect, you want the name to fit, but finding one (or creating the right one) is pretty hard. Other writers however do not have that struggle. For them the characters' names appear when the characters first appear in the writers' minds and thus they do not struggle with naming as much. How about you? Do the names of characters just come to you or do you need to think about it? It the naming process easy for you or do you struggle with it?
1 person likes this
7 responses
@matersfish (6311)
• United States
5 Sep 11
I just go through the alphabet like naming a storm system. Amy or Ann or Amber or Ariel or Adam or Andrew - then it's B time. I switch it up with last names and middle names and whatnot, but I don't stress the character names too much. I figure you know a character by his or her name through the way you know a character's personality. For instance: Your best friend Nathan looks and acts like a "Nathan" because he's always been Nathan. If he was Tom to start out, then he'd be Tom. I'd personally rather write a story using the story instead of allowing bits of my preconceived notions of how a certain name should act leak into the writing. It's always in my mind that Rowling's Harry Potter was also a character in Troll. So if I stressed a name like Stevie, for example, I just know I'd have some other Stevie in my head and I'd be plagiarizing bits of that personality to fill out Stevie's story.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
5 Sep 11
That's a pretty orthodox method, alphabetization, however it sounds like it works! I never thought about it, but carrying one's preconceived notions into the writing process might be a story killing move. It ruins the potential for surprise growth and can limit how we think of a character. :)
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
5 Sep 11
That is a good point - carrying preconceived notions about names into writing can limit how we think of a character and what we are open to doing with the character. :)
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
5 Sep 11
Sorry about that second comment! I got an error when I posted the first and assumed it had not gone through, so I posted another - looks like the first did make it though. Please go back to being normal and healthy myLot!
@celticeagle (118286)
• Boise, Idaho
5 Sep 11
Usually a name comes along with the character as I am write the outline. If that doesn't happen I go to a site with names and I start picking ones i like. THen I come up with one that sounds right to me. There are times I will change the name or part of it before I finish the story.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
7 Sep 11
So you are a "mixed" writer then. The names sometimes come and at other times require some coaxing on your part to come. Researching online for names is a very effective method when it just isn't coming. :)
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (118286)
• Boise, Idaho
8 Sep 11
And then just see which ones soound right to you.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
8 Sep 11
And that's where the writer's instinct comes in. :)
1 person likes this
@cher913 (25891)
• Canada
8 Sep 11
i read where someone who was a writer used street names for character names. i thought that was a great idea!
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
8 Sep 11
Well considering how creative some street names can be, that does indeed sound like a very promising method! :)
@Lore2009 (7389)
• United States
5 Sep 11
I'm not a writer (yet?) but I think I would have fun at naming my characters at first. It's like naming your pets, I would imagine.. I have a lot of fun naming my art pieces, but I would guess that is a a lot easier because I can use descriptive words instead of personal names. Good luck!
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
7 Sep 11
Sounds like you would be quite good at it - if you already enjoy naming your other art! Thanks for the luck! :)
@whatrow (793)
• United States
5 Sep 11
I start by considering what I want from the character. Once I know something about him, a names usually just pops into my head.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
7 Sep 11
That's a good method - connecting a name to a certain trait or quality of a character. It sounds like you are one of the those authors just gets names in their heads - lucky! :)
• Canada
5 Sep 11
Easy if you don't really care about the names. But one of the greatest strategy for coming up with character names is using the theme of the novel, or topic. It might be mediocre but it is very effective. For example, I watch a lot of anime, and this one anime relates to pirates. The names they use for the pirates were in a way similar to the names of famous pirates in history. If you really want a unique character name, perhaps you can research on the origins of the name you chosen and see if it is fitting with the personality of the character you are creating or thinking of. Also, usually if you create a character first, before naming it, the name will just come as instinct when you finalize the character. Perhaps, you can name a character first, choose any name and let the character your create develop into that name.It is almost like a way for mothers (and fathers) to know the name of their child, and as their child gets older, their name fits them.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
7 Sep 11
That is a great idea! Using the theme as a naming base not only creates related names, but strengthens the overall unity of the book. :)
• Philippines
5 Sep 11
This was my exact problem on my last short story. I was pulling my hair on the most important decision aside from the story's plot - what to call this character which I painstakingly created from my imagination? I don't why but I felt like a parent. I was scouring the internet for a name that would somehow fit into my main character. I don't want too fancy or too simple. Nor I don't want too short or too long. If I remember correctly, my head writer/friend asked me too many times to fill the main character's name on drafts becuase I have not yet found a name. I know that some writers have the luxury of naming their characters in minds and on the spot. I came easy to them. Unfortunately, not for me. That is the reason why I became a constant viewer of many baby naming sites - because I wanted that character to be a person, even at least in imagination or in my readers. Come to think of it, my character is my own baby. In a sense, I gave birth to him, though not physically. Like many other writers, I consider every character and story as my babies. They comfort me in many ways that otehr people don't. I consider them my treasures - a good reason why naming them is perhaps, the most difficult decision I can ever make.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
7 Sep 11
That is exactly how I feel with some of my characters! You spend hours trying to find the perfect name. However you feel your character is so distinct it seems nothing will fit. You don't want to give your "child" the wrong name. It's hard.