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message 1: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
I was just curious - how do you go about choosing names for characters in your stories?

For me, at least with major characters and recurring minor ones there's been some thought into the character name.

Examples:

The main protagonist of the novel I'm working on, "Suckers & Rogues" and the object of interest of the protagonist of "Ladybug Boy" is Claude Bonhomme. The novel is about children roguing corn in 1985. I gave Claude his first name to sort of play off the clods of dirt that are always around them. He's of French descent and I chose Bonhomme as his last name because it means "good man".

The oldest roguer in the crew in the novel and also the protagonist of the upcoming "Party At Larry's" is Larry Van Der Voorde. Back when I rogued corn, there were not many adults on the crews. I remember two that used to get picked on a lot by the kids, a guy named Larry (last name forgotten) and another named Steve Van Der Voorde. So, I combined those to for this character.

There's a girl on the crew whom everyone sees as gorgeous, even exotic. Everyone but herself. She doesn't see herself as any better than anyone. I call her Alexa Smith, the first name to reflect the beauty others see in her and Smith to reflect that she sees herself as ordinary.

Then, sometimes, I just like names because they're fun to say. I named one girl in the novel Debbie Adobe.

What about you?


message 2: by Charles (last edited May 15, 2015 11:17PM) (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments I usually use anagrams. I'm drunk or I would elaborate.


message 3: by Donna (new)

Donna I love your methods! In my second novel, I chose names for the twin sisters based on the characters of their wacky parents who wanted to call them Liv and Di. Thus, Olivia and Diana. But they get laughed at so much as children, they change their nicknames to Livy and DeeDee.
http://dawnvcahill.com/my-books/dance...


message 4: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Donna wrote: "I chose names for the twin sisters based on the characters of their wacky parents who wanted to call them Liv and Di"

Excellent! The wacky dad in "Austism", one of my short stories, named his sons Austin Great Worth and Dallas Fort Worth.


message 5: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Charles wrote: "I usually use anagrams. I'm drunk or I would elaborate."

Oh, you're not as think as you drunk you are.


message 6: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments The names of the main characters in our series were all names I came up with in the late 80s or earlier, and I can't recall why, except in the case of one: Huron. I always liked that name, and it has an obscure family connection. The name of our MC, Loralynn Kennakris, dates from my college days and might have an SCA connection. An important minor character has the last name of a local chef I much admired in the 80s.

Otherwise, we tend to blend the names of historical figures (Wikipedia is great for that). For minor characters, we usually just resort to lists of names on-line.


message 7: by Rachael (last edited May 16, 2015 12:02AM) (new)

Rachael Eyre (rachaeleyre) | 192 comments I usually go for names I like - unless it's an unpleasant character, in which case I go down memory lane and use the surnames of stinkers I used to know. Otherwise I try and make them plausible, the sorts of names you'd overhear in a doctor's surgery. I find it embarrassing when people in a real world setting are saddled with fanciful names; it's like a little girl playing with Barbies. And if it's something unusual, there's the horrible chance that there might be a real person out there who takes offence. At least if it's an ordinary name, say Sam Smith, you won't have someone threatening to sue.

When I was younger I used to borrow names from the graves in the old churchyard outside my house. The last person to be buried there died in the 1800s so I hope they weren't too miffed.


message 8: by Kat (new)

Kat Graveyards are awesome for names. I used to work on one, and one of the names on a gravestone was Walburga Grimm. To me, that sounds like she was probably buried with her battleaxe.

Lo and behold, 20 years later I'm sitting in my office, processing customer data through the system, and Walburga Grimm pops up. Creeeepy!


message 9: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Kat wrote: "Walburga Grimm"

What a horrible and beautiful name.


message 10: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) I usually imagine the most outrageous name possible, and then try to bring it in line with reality (would his mother really name him that?—and why?). But years ago while writing a short story I was listening to a baseball game on TV and the batter got a base hit with a couple of guys on base. I heard the announcer say something like, "Jackson scores, Cruz is rounding third." I wrote two short stories based on the character Jackson Cruz.


message 11: by A. (new)

A. (anitalouiserobertsonyahoocom) | 50 comments Dwayne wrote: "I was just curious - how do you go about choosing names for characters in your stories?

For me, at least with major characters and recurring minor ones there's been some thought into the character..."


Good question Dwayne = I loved reading all of these posts. My main characters are names I've read or heard of somewhere, that I roll around in my head and polish before beginning the manuscript. Other characters have first or last names of friends and family members, or initials of people I'd rather not name. I have fun with the name thing. For example in my second book, I am describing the actions of a "class clown" at one point. It's only a brief reference, but I used the name of a cousin who was always a class clown in real life!


message 12: by Dianne (new)

Dianne Bunnell | 61 comments When I named the characters of my book, I had a baby name book sitting beside my computer. Jane, my female Christ figure means God's gracious gift, which goes perfectly with her last name, Crownhart. Of course, her parents are Joe and Mary. Her schizophrenic sister Louise (who steals every scene she's in) means mighty warrior. The antagonist Logan means little hollow (and he is hollow - inside) and his last name, Churlick, I just came up with because it sounded like the kind of churlish person he is.

Fun for an English geek like me!


message 13: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) For all my silliness, I do try to keep my character's names somewhat grounded in reality, so I use the Social Security Administration's website to look up popular names by birth year. Sometimes the name's meaning is important, but mostly not. Some, like my twins, Jem and Nai, are meant to be obvious jokes. Some, like Andre in The Eyes of The Sun, are arbitrary replacements for names that I had to change. (Andre was originally Jason, until I met and married a Jason and that became weird)

But then there's too many 'in-joke' names as well, like my Bogie's Great Uncle Howie. Bogie's a demon, but I imagine human disguise to look a little like Howie Mandel, thus his uncle was named. I had a tendency to name all the vampire 'extras' in my Eyes series after sales reps at my last job. Rory Violet Clark in Going Green is supposed to be me, so I used a selection of the pseudonyms I used in my youth.


message 14: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1511 comments Mod
Well with rest of the Titans... they were based off of the characters in a group Dungeons and Dragons players. But in all actuality, most of my names don't even matter and I don't even come up with one sometimes until I'm halfway through the book. The last thing I ever created a character is their name.


message 15: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Christina wrote: "(Andre was originally Jason, until I met and married a Jason and that became weird)
..."


That would certainly become awkward! lol

Christina wrote: "I imagine human disguise to look a little like Howie Mandel..."

Now I know why I loved Bogie. I always liked Howie Mandel from the old time in Saturday night live, the movie Walk like a man, to the present days. With or without hair, he's still as funny. :P


message 16: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) G.G. wrote: "With or without hair, he's still as funny. :P"

It's the without hair version. He was performing at a local Casino, so I kept seeing him on billboards as I was stuck in traffic. I still cant reconcile that he's the same guy with the mop of eighties curls. ;)


message 17: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments How did I choose my names?

For my main character, it was a long process. I needed to find a name that could give me initials that would work as an earth name. (He's an alien from outer space.) So I created a name Lutnalind Zhendar Xavelk. And from there, LX became Alex. (He goes by all three names.)

For the other characters I surfed the internet to find appropriate names for the centuries and countries each were born, ranging from nowadays to around half a century ago.


message 18: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Christina wrote: "G.G. wrote: "With or without hair, he's still as funny. :P"

It's the without hair version. He was performing at a local Casino, so I kept seeing him on billboards as I was stuck in traffic. I stil..."


I was going to say that in my other message. It had been years since I had seen him so when I saw him hairless, although I recognized the name, I couldn't pinpoint from where. Still, I think he looks great either way. He's the kind of guy who wears the bald head well. :P


message 19: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments Dwayne wrote: "Charles wrote: "I usually use anagrams. I'm drunk or I would elaborate."

Oh, you're not as think as you drunk you are."


I was too drunk to elaborate. :D

I will shamelessly reappropriate names for my characters.

Rhylie Ella Underhill = Ellen Ripley with a popularly generic surname.


message 20: by Diana (new)

Diana Rising (dianaruthr) | 211 comments Dwayne wrote: "I was just curious - how do you go about choosing names for characters in your stories?
..."


What in the heck is "roguing corn?"


message 21: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Charles wrote: "Rhylie Ella Underhill = Ellen Ripley with a popularly generic surname."

Hah. I should have known, considering that there was a very Alien feel to the story. I was even going to note that in my review.


message 22: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments Christina wrote: "Charles wrote: "Rhylie Ella Underhill = Ellen Ripley with a popularly generic surname."

Hah. I should have known, considering that there was a very Alien feel to the story. I was even going to not..."


The first Alien is an amazing movie. Aliens is one of my favorite action flicks, but I don't think it manages to capture the atmosphere of the first.


message 23: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Ken wrote: " I wrote two short stories based on the character Jackson Cruz."

I can see why. That's a fantastic name!


message 24: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
A. wrote: "I used the name of a cousin who was always a class clown in real life!"

What an honor for the cousin!


message 25: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Dianne wrote: "Jane, my female Christ figure means God's gracious gift... Of course, her parents are Joe and Mary..."

Cool. Often times I include at least one character with a biblical name or Bible-related name, even if the characters are not particularly religious.

Dianne wrote: "Her schizophrenic sister... steals every scene she's in..."

Schizophrenics will do that. I've taken care of a number of them.


message 26: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Christina wrote: "Rory Violet Clark in Going Green is supposed to be me..."

Now I'm racking my brain to remember which one she is and I don't have my Kindle with me (at the coffee shop). Was she the young girl keeping the diary? That was probably my second favorite part (but, nothing could top that scene in the mall).


message 27: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Dwayne wrote: "Christina wrote: "Rory Violet Clark in Going Green is supposed to be me..."

Now I'm racking my brain to remember which one she is and I don't have my Kindle with me (at the coffee shop). Was she t..."


Yep, the one who planned to hunker down with MREs and her tech toys. I harbor no secret desires to slay monsters during the apocalypse. ;)


message 28: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
G.G. wrote: "For my main character, it was a long process. I needed to find a name that could give me initials that would work as an earth name. (He's an alien from outer space.) So I created a name Lutnalind Zhendar Xavelk. And from there, LX became Alex. (He goes by all three names)"

Interesting. One of the aliens in "Mr. Meeker" is named Xela and the alien in "Rachel, Roswell & The Alien" is named Felix. Both a bit close to Alex, eh?


message 29: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Diana wrote: "What in the heck is "roguing corn?""

Going into a seed corn field and cutting out the plants that should not be there, including the wrong varieties of corn.


message 30: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Christina wrote: "Yep, the one who planned to hunker down with MREs and her tech toys. I harbor no secret desires to slay monsters during the apocalypse. ;) "

I liked her. And I agree, during the zombie apocalypse - I ain't goin' out there! In fact that's the first path I took in "Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny".


message 31: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Siegrist (amandasiegrist) | 190 comments Hmm...picking out names can be hard for me at first. I try not to pick names of people I know because if by any chance they read it and think...hey is this character based off me. I don't know, is it? So I try to avoid that. Sometimes I google names to look for one that pops out at me or has a specific meaning I'm looking for. Or I've done what Ken said. I was watching football last year and Peyton Manning was playing against Russell Wilson. There Peyrus was born! It's for my fantasy novel that'll take me forever to write.


message 32: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Amanda wrote: "I try not to pick names of people I know because if by any chance they read it and think...hey is this character based off me. I don't know, is it?"

This is one reason I don't ask my family to read my work. I think they'll assume that every jerky relative of a main character is based on one of them. The reality is, I've only based one character off a relative, ever, and it's a character in the novel I'm working on. He's based on my brother. And he's a decent guy.


message 33: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Siegrist (amandasiegrist) | 190 comments Well at least he's decent in case he ever reads it...lol. I've never based any of my characters on anyone. I don't mind my family and friends reading my books but I still don't like to use names I know because I would be tempted to base the character of that same person with that name. Especially if I don't like the person. Plus sometimes I like the challenge of coming up with different names.


message 34: by Micah (last edited May 16, 2015 01:51PM) (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1019 comments As with so many things in writing, the way I pick names depends on the book.

Most often I just use names that pop into my head:

Mrs. Magdalene Benson, aka Captain Pierre Jacobs
Janine Benson
Miriam P. Carter
Nicholas Dresden
Chief Inspecting Officer Henley
Rob Erikson
Peter Deming
General Crowling
Dr. Jason P. Nesbit
Elijah Whittemore

I have a habit of naming quite a few minor or supporting characters Alan as a private tribute to Pink Floyd (I feel a certain connection to their song Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast stemming from a short film a friend produced in college, and later a kind of song tribute I did back in '05 for a song competition about springtime: http://emdotambient.com/Music/KVRTrac...), thus:

Alan Willsham Ortmeyer (the other two names just sounded absurdly plausible).

In my first crack at a novel I used a lot of "exotic" names and names drawn from Sanskrit, which is an especially good poetic language. That language was used for almost all the spaceship names in that novel, as well as for a "race" of killer robots, the Hakari (which can be translated in Sanskrit as "Cut Enemy").

But the trouble with exotic sounding names is they always tend to sound made up. I decided after a while to change over to using more or less real names. Even old fashioned sounding names. I figure that if I use "normal" names, then the settings and situations in my stories will seem all the stranger when seen in contrast to the names.

Sometimes, though, there are reasons for choosing certain names. My next novel has several names that point toward the role of the characters in the story. I can't go into details without dropping a massive spoiler.

Also, in shorter works I usually don't give last names. So I end up with a lot of one-word-names:

Bliss
Eyvon
Tugs (Dr. Elliot Tuggstern)
JL
Stacks
Dana
Marcus
Lenny
Eunice
Bernie

And then on the odd occasion I play little games with myself. In the novella The Cut-Up Man, I started throwing obscure musical references in. Two of the assassins in that story had names based on 1970s keyboard players, while another character was named after a modular synthesizer company:

Mr. Hansson (after Bo Hansson the Swedish keyboard player...RIP)
P.S. Bardens (after Peter Bardens from the Brit progrock band Camel...RIP)
The Right Honorable Director General Cwejman Waldari (after the Swedish modular synth company Cwejman http://www.cwejman.net/ ...still going strong! )

Also...all the story titles in my Posthuman Cycle series come from Pink Floyd lyrics (or in one case, from a misheard PF lyric).

Hmm...after re-reading all that I could have just said "it's kinda random."


message 35: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Micah wrote: "Also, in shorter works I usually don't give last names."

In one of my short works, the narrator has no name. She tells the whole story, but never mentions her name.


message 36: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments Speaking just for my current story, all mine are named like stock characters, vocations or descriptors.

For instance - The main character is "the Damsel", which supports the fairytale tropes and themes I'm including but I'm also hoping readers might be able to put themselves in her place as well as other characters if they feel they can identify with a Damsel, a Stranger, a Primadonna - what have you :)


message 37: by E.J. (new)

E.J. Fisch (ejfisch) | 37 comments Since I write sci fi, I like to think of names that are kind of "otherworldly." Most of the characters I write are members of a superhuman race, so I save the weirder ones for them. A lot of my human characters have fairly "human" names, though I occasionally alter the spelling. Some of these include Jayden, Taran, Mae, Sadey, Tobias, etc.

I keep a whole list of random names in my phone so that when I need one, I can just go pick one. I come up with these names in a whole manner of ways. A couple have come from street signs. Some are based on people I've met. Some are sort of based on the names of foreign cities. Occasionally I just make one up off the top of my head. This was the case with the male lead in my trilogy, Aroska Tarbic. The name "Aroska" came to me first and was actually meant to be kind of a unisex name, but I decided it had a harsher sound that was more suitable for a man. When I come up with last names, I try to make up things with contrasting (or occasionally complementary) vowel sounds.

My main character, Ziva Payvan, actually has kind of an interesting story behind her name. When I first created her, she was meant to be a filler character for a couple of scenes in a different story, and it was right around the time Ziva David's character was introduced on NCIS so I just stole it. "Payvan" is based on Canadian volleyball player Sarah Pavan who played for the University of Nebraska several years back. Her name is pronounced with a short A sound but the commentators mispronounced it PAY-van once and I ran with it.

I also have a fairly alarming number of names that were inspired by my cats...


message 38: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1019 comments E.J. wrote: "...I also have a fairly alarming number of names that were inspired by my cats."

I have the opposite...our first cat we named Malika after one of the characters in my first novel. That's Sanskrit for "flower." After that we stuck with the Sanskrit naming convention for our next two cats: Sambhu (the 'S' is pronounced as 'Sh', meaning "the source of happiness") and Bodhi (pronounced Bod-hee, meaning "enlightenment").


message 39: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
E.J. wrote: "I also have a fairly alarming number of names that were inspired by my cats... "

Four of the five twelve-year-old children in "Suckers & Rogues" and "Ladybug Boy" are named for my dogs.


message 40: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) G.G. wrote: "How did I choose my names?

For my main character, it was a long process. I needed to find a name that could give me initials that would work as an earth name. (He's an alien from outer space.) So ..."


I want to know where Mellie came from. It seems like such a cute and whimsical name for a vampire. :)


message 41: by Diana (new)

Diana Rising (dianaruthr) | 211 comments Christina wrote: "Yep, the one who planned to hunker down with MREs and her tech toys. I harbor no secret desires to slay monsters during the apocalypse. ;)." (message 28)

My plan for the zombie apocalypse is to take over a Kmart or other big-box store with a garden area. They have few windows to block, you would have seeds to grow food for when the food in the store runs out, they sometimes carry guns and ammunition, but definitely have knifes, shears, hoes, or other weapons, and you can plant the food on the flat roof and watch for zombies from there. Anyone want to join me?


message 42: by Diana (new)

Diana Rising (dianaruthr) | 211 comments Dwayne wrote: "Diana wrote: "What in the heck is "roguing corn?""

Going into a seed corn field and cutting out the plants that should not be there, including the wrong varieties of corn."


Neat, I thought maybe it was stealing corn from the field. Thanks for the explanation.


message 43: by Diana (new)

Diana Rising (dianaruthr) | 211 comments E.J. wrote: "Since I write sci fi, I like to think of names that are kind of "otherworldly.".... I also have a fairly alarming number of names that were inspired by my cats......"

To reverse that, I named my cat Chanur after "The Pride of Chanur" series.
I've named other cats after characters in fantasy books.


message 44: by Christina (last edited May 16, 2015 03:41PM) (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Diana wrote: "My plan for the zombie apocalypse is to take over a Kmart or other big-box store with a garden area. They have few windows to block, you would have seeds to grow food for when the food in the store runs out, they sometimes carry guns and ammunition, but definitely have knifes, shears, hoes, or other weapons, and you can plant the food on the flat roof and watch for zombies from there. Anyone want to join me?"

See, I address the flaw in that plan in the story Dwayne liked. Too many people are going to have the same idea and there's going to be some serious big box pandemonium going on. ;)


message 45: by Diana (new)

Diana Rising (dianaruthr) | 211 comments Christina wrote: "Diana wrote: "My plan for the zombie apocalypse is to take over a Kmart or other big-box store See, I address the flaw in that plan in the story Dwayne liked. Too many people are going to have the same idea and there's going to be some serious big box pandemonium going on. ;)..."

Okay, now I have to read it. I don't want to be unprepared for something so likely to happen in the near future.


message 46: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Christina wrote: "Dwayne wrote: "Christina wrote: "Rory Violet Clark in Going Green is supposed to be me..."

Now I'm racking my brain to remember which one she is and I don't have my Kindle with me (at the coffee s..."


You and I are too much alike. If anything happens, I too will hide with all my tablets, movies, books. I'll let others kill the zombies. :P


message 47: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) G.G. wrote: "You and I are too much alike. If anything happens, I too will hide with all my tablets, movies, books. I'll let others kill the zombies. :P"

Does anyone know where we might find an underground library? ;)

Sorry for the threadjack, Dwayne!


message 48: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Dwayne wrote: "G.G. wrote: "For my main character, it was a long process. I needed to find a name that could give me initials that would work as an earth name. (He's an alien from outer space.) So I created a nam..."

Yep! Now, I'll need to get my hands on the Roswell novella. After all, it was on my to-read list before Autism. I hope it'll be as good.

(No pressure huh? :P)


message 49: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Courtney wrote: "Speaking just for my current story, all mine are named like stock characters, vocations or descriptors.

For instance - The main character is "the Damsel", which supports the fairytale tropes and t..."


Could they have lost their memory or something? I don't know, but that's the first explanation that comes to mind for having names like that.


message 50: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Dwayne wrote: "E.J. wrote: "I also have a fairly alarming number of names that were inspired by my cats... "

Four of the five twelve-year-old children in "Suckers & Rogues" and "Ladybug Boy" are named for my dogs."


LOL, well that's an idea. :P


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