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Old 02-14-2013, 07:32 PM   #1
JackLuis
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Character Names?

Where do you get names for Characters? Do you 'just pick one' or do you select each one to fit the character?

while I was writting Spreading Seeds, I 'ran out of names' for women. So what I did was look at the names of the girls on the ;less clothed' channel and found ones that looked like who I was writing and used their first names, but just picked their last.

How do you, DO IT?
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:36 PM   #2
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Sometimes they just pop into my head, but a trick I have used is to take the first name of one person I know and put it with the last name of someone else I know.

A Character "Amado Rosario" in my latest work was "born" that way

And my largest online comic customer that has buying my e-bay fodder for the last ten years has one of those names that are really 2 first names and my the two main male characters in my Circle novel are from him.

I use the first names of vendors and customers as well. "Victoria and Allison" from the Circle are women I deal with on a regular basis.

Now when I speak with them on the phone I always have this thought of "Wow, wouldn't you like to know what you've been doing!"
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:42 PM   #3
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I suspect it's worth looking at some really old Victorian names.
Or them ole' biblical names.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:53 PM   #4
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I have several sites I go to for names, including this one. And this one. Or this one. I have more, I'm sure.

The first link has so many choices I rarely need to use any other site.
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:32 PM   #5
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Usually as I'm thinking of a story and the characters in it, the names will just come to me and that works. Other times it's a little tougher, I have to sort through names in my head, although I do have a names book. I wish I did have a system. So far all I have is a system of names to avoid, usually close family and friends. Like I don't think I could write a story now where a main character has the same name as my son or daughter.
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:34 PM   #6
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I usually pick them out of people I know in real life. Usually they are common enough names...no danger of "outing" anyone! For the ladies in my stories, they are all ex girlfriends, dates, one night stands crushes etc. or sometimes they are the lovely ladies on Lit.
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MistressLynn View Post
I have several sites I go to for names, including this one. And this one. Or this one. I have more, I'm sure.

The first link has so many choices I rarely need to use any other site.
Hey there Mistress Lynn

I tend to have an aversion to fancy names, Although once you name a character and she grows on you, even Maureen or Kerissa can get pretty exotic!

Do you pick a name because it invokes something in you? Or, to invoke something in the readers mind? Does that mean that names can be stereotypical. Like Buffy or Maynard?
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MistressLynn View Post
I have several sites I go to for names, including this one. And this one. Or this one. I have more, I'm sure.

The first link has so many choices I rarely need to use any other site.
Those are great links. Thanks. I'll have to bookmark them.
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:47 PM   #9
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Some folk use the sender names from their email spam. I know one author used names from his rejection letters...
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:00 PM   #10
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From the Social Security website, I find a list of most popular names for male or female, any year and/or state in the US:
http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/state/index.html
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bramblethorn View Post
Some folk use the sender names from their email spam. I know one author used names from his rejection letters...
I think I have one or two of those. Heh heh he!
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackLuis View Post
Hey there Mistress Lynn

I tend to have an aversion to fancy names, Although once you name a character and she grows on you, even Maureen or Kerissa can get pretty exotic!

Do you pick a name because it invokes something in you? Or, to invoke something in the readers mind? Does that mean that names can be stereotypical. Like Buffy or Maynard?
The name has to fit the image/personality I have in my mind of the character but it also has to match their age. When I begin writing, the name needs to feel right. I'm not going to give someone who is seventy a name that wasn't common for their generation. And I want the first and last names to flow well. If I first choose a name that doesn't feel right, I have to find something else before writing more.

Names can be stereotypical, yes. Gertrude isn't going to make the reader imagine someone in their twenties. Brick doesn't sound like a man in his eighties.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:33 PM   #13
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More often than not, the names just come to me as I develop the characters. I know the right one when it comes to mind, it's that simple. A few of them are named in honor of other literary characters that inspired me. Sometimes I also use the real (first) names of people I've known in the past, although generally the characters aren't actually based on those same people.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:33 PM   #14
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For first names, I go to the various "popular when" and ethnic name files on the Internet. For last names, I usually go to a telephone book and just skip and around and point to them until I get first and last names that go together and ones that seem to fit the character I'm assigning them to. For ethnic surnames I, again, go to the Internet or pick a regional foreign affairs book off my shelf and use names I find there. I try to avoid similar names--even with the same initial--as I can in the same story so that readers don't get confused about who is who.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bramblethorn View Post
Some folk use the sender names from their email spam. I know one author used names from his rejection letters...
Back in the days when spam had sender names. *nods*

I used to have a file with hundreds of names from spam. For about a month they were all being generated from some source that had 'nature' words, so one of the names would be 'normal" and the other would be River, Robin, Hedge, Bluewater... Created a gorgeous allegorical atmosphere.

Lesson to be learned, keep your backups current.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:45 PM   #16
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I try to think of how a name will sound out loud, if the story were really happening. Like, if there is drama or horror, and a character has to scream someone's name, I think of a name that sounds good screamed, like a name that ends in a vowel or long e sound. Or if it's sexy and someone's name is being murmured or whispered, I think of a name that would sound sexy when spoken that way.

But also, like others have said, I try to think of names that make sense for the age of the character. I'm writing a screenplay that has vampire characters, and for the vampires that are really old, I've given them names that make sense for when they were alive and their country of origin.

Sometimes it's easy and it just comes to me, and sometimes I really sweat over it!
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:53 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackLuis View Post
Where do you get names for Characters? Do you 'just pick one' or do you select each one to fit the character?

while I was writting Spreading Seeds, I 'ran out of names' for women. So what I did was look at the names of the girls on the ;less clothed' channel and found ones that looked like who I was writing and used their first names, but just picked their last.

How do you, DO IT?
Mostly I just pick a name. I intentionally try to stay away from names with significance in my life.

Sometimes I want to set up a literary parallel. A story I'm working on now is about two young women, friends, who get competitive for a young man, and that competition drives a wedge between them. The literary parallel isn't terribly precise (and I don't really like stories - or want to write them - that too slavishly pursue a literary reference), but I named one of the women Heidi and the other Clara. In the Heidi story the boy who comes between Heidi and Clara is named Peter, so that became the male character's name. There's another (minor) character named Ms. Spyri.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:53 PM   #18
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I like these two. The first is good if you write sci-fi/fantasy.

http://random-name-generator.info/

http://www.rinkworks.com/namegen/

Most of the time, my characters' names come to me, but if they don't, these at least give me a starting point.
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:17 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MistressLynn View Post
I have several sites I go to for names, including this one. And this one. Or this one. I have more, I'm sure.

The first link has so many choices I rarely need to use any other site.
This is genius.
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:17 PM   #20
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There was a radio host (that I used to listen to) that could roughly narrow down the age of the caller (usually female) based on the years that particular given (first) name was popular.

I use this as a guide and also use country-centric names in my writing -- for example: Ian, Simon and Bronwyn are fairly common names in Oz and the UK, but pretty rare in the US.

At the end of the day, it's the story that matters, not the names.
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:37 PM   #21
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What to name the baby sites are a ready resource for names, ethnic names too. Wikipedia's good for foreign names; usually famous people from that country who's names you can shuffle around. The phone book's good, magazines, the newspaper and news sites as well.

Sometimes I mine my HS and college yearbooks for first and last names.
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:39 PM   #22
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I just checked one of my spam folders. I need to copy these names over. They could be mixed and matched, or perhaps just give a little inspiration. Thanks, Stella.
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:50 PM   #23
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All my characters are named Bella, Jacob, or Edward. No wait, that's from the Social Security most common list.


The obituaries have some pretty good names if you still get a paper. Might even get a story out of reading a few.
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:05 PM   #24
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Just made a file of all the spam senders I had. Some are a little too goofy but might still have their uses.

It's usually last names that give me trouble. I've taken to searching for the top ten or fifty most common surnames in an area. Sometimes I grab names of people I went to school with, even back to grammar school. But it can be a stumbling block. I just started a new story, and when I went to the notes I'd written, I found that I had two separate files for an outline, and although the main female character had the same name, I'd changed the names of the guys in the story.

I always think that means that the names aren't really the ones I want and I should look for others.
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:23 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PennLady View Post
Just made a file of all the spam senders I had. Some are a little too goofy but might still have their uses.

It's usually last names that give me trouble. I've taken to searching for the top ten or fifty most common surnames in an area. Sometimes I grab names of people I went to school with, even back to grammar school. But it can be a stumbling block. I just started a new story, and when I went to the notes I'd written, I found that I had two separate files for an outline, and although the main female character had the same name, I'd changed the names of the guys in the story.

I always think that means that the names aren't really the ones I want and I should look for others.
I think that first link I gave has a surname category that might help.
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