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Topic: Finding the right character names

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Subject: Finding the right character names
Date Posted: 6/7/2011 8:27 AM ET
Member Since: 1/22/2009
Posts: 73
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I am hopeful to become a fantastic writer and have been playing around with some story ideas over the past few months. One of my biggest struggles beside the discipline to write after or before I go to work is finding the right names for my characters. I am pretty decent at developing the characters but struggle with selecting the right name. Does any one have any advice or tricks to share?


Thank you!

Date Posted: 6/7/2011 11:37 AM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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See the way I tackle that problem is by asking various coworkers- female name or male name, first thing that comes to mind .. Then if none of them feel right, I find various writer buddies and give then the character outline and ask them what name came to mind (also done this to coworkers but takes time explain WHY I need them to think).

Other process is working what nationality the character is and looking at online baby name sites.  Use a trait from their personality to name them.

I've a roman in my story atm and naming him was hard as he needs 3 names in a certain order to give him status.

But baby name sites are the most used way to get names.

Date Posted: 6/7/2011 3:42 PM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2010
Posts: 40
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Same as xengab, I ask friends and family members. I also use one of those baby name books. The one I like is called 40,001 Best Baby Names or something like that. I like it because it has all sorts of fun lists in it (future truck drivers, names that make kids feel weird, girly girl names, etc.). Also, not sure if most books do this, but it says each the language each name came from. Often, if something is almost right a name from the same language will do it for you. For example, I the story I'm working on now, I tried Astria for one of my female leads. It didn't quite work, so I looked at other Greek names and came up with Calista. It's perfect!

Date Posted: 6/24/2011 4:30 PM ET
Member Since: 7/11/2007
Posts: 2
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I can't commit to a name until I've really got a feel for the character -- beyond appearance or even personality. My characters' names don't feel right until they capture the vibe of the person. I imagine how the energy changes when this person enters a room. Once I know what the character's energy feels like, I'll flip through a baby name book or scroll through some online lists until something resonates. I'm a screenwriter, but I use the same method when writing prose.

I know it sounds new-agey and weird, but it works for me :) 

Date Posted: 6/24/2011 4:53 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Julie- not weird because to some people certain names have certain stereotypes that go along with it.

Date Posted: 6/25/2011 1:06 AM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2006
Posts: 3,343
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Pretty much what Julie said.  A name usually comes after I am more familiar with the character.  And if it still doesn't, looking at baby books, etc. will help find an appropriate choice.

Date Posted: 8/26/2011 1:35 AM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2010
Posts: 2
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I like to work with objects when I write. For example I wrote about a deal made with a demon involving a chalice. I actually got a cheap plastic chalice-like cup that I could hold and muse while I think and write. I do similar with characters. I pretend what a conversation would be like with them and I use different names till I find myself addressing this character with a name that fits.