A few weeks ago I read a blog post by Emily Wheeler about naming characters and I found it to be such an interesting topic that I decided to write my own blog post about it. Basically, I’m just curious about the process other writers use to name their characters. Is it something that comes easily for you or something that you struggle with? Do you name characters after people you know or go with a particular theme?
I personally don’t name my characters after people I know. However, I have been known to make use of unique names that I’ve overheard some place, names that I never would have thought of on my own.
As for themes, I’ve never gone with one myself. I go more by a gut feeling. When I have the right name for a character, it just feels right, as if that’s what they were always meant to be called. Occasionally, a character will pop into my head already named, but sometimes it’s not quite that easy. For example, in the first novel I ever completed, I had a character whose first name I knew, but his last name took quite a lot of time for me to figure out. I knew that I wanted it to have a Middle Eastern feel to it so I looked through names on baby name sites and surname sites. I couldn’t find a name that fit exactly, but I came across the name Azar, and that felt really close. So then I added an N to the beginning to get Nazar and voilà! That was it!
I also had a character named James but he was a goofy guy and somehow that spelling just didn’t seem to suit him. So I simply switched it to Jaimz and that was so him!
Generally, I don’t have much trouble naming characters. I love names and giving them to my characters. But some characters are just more difficult to name than others.
I’m currently having trouble with one character, a faerie, mostly because I need her name to have a certain significance. I’d like her name to be of Celtic origin and to mean something along the line of ‘secret’. Alas, so far I haven’t had much luck with that one. I’ve tried baby name sites, but that hasn’t turned up anything quite right so I’ll have to keep working on it.
Do you have any particular methods for naming characters? Is it something that you enjoy?
I’d love to hear from other writers on this subject!