30 Day Writing Meme: Naming
July 4, 2016 § Leave a comment
Day 03 → How do you come up with character names?
The character’s common name is one of the first things, usually, that I know. It may get refined to have a better meaning, work well with a surname, or be more distinct from the other characters.
Several of my characters are fae, and my faeries have a true name that would be rude to use in public, so they are called by a use name, like a nickname. Jouet’s name came from the sound and the association with Perrier Jouet champagne, for her sparkling, effervescent personality. When I developed my ideas for how faerie names are used, I had to create or alter her full name, her sister’s name, and her family names so that they worked with that worldbuilding. More fun for me!
Also, I collect interesting names to use later.
And that’s typical. I have a name, then need to shape it a little to work better in the story, and/or the shaping of it tells me more about the character. Marin Quinn, my amateur sleuth from my Eagle Crest Mysteries, gave me her name with no special effort after I met someone with that uncommon sounds-like-Karen first name.
Sometimes, however, I just need a name, and I don’t think it through very well. For "A Theft of Teapots," in late drafts a character referred to a witness by name, but I didn’t have a name ready. I somewhat thoughtlessly used two last names of people I knew: Walter Hall. Then I completely forgot I had done so. Lucky for me, both Mr. Walter and Mr. Hall thought their cameos were great!