Naming your characters

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calico
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Naming your characters

Postby calico » Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:26 pm

I know this is going to be an issue for me. It took me months to choose names for my children, and I'm afraid the same will be true for any book i want to write. some names sound too pretentious, others- too waspy or too ethnic or too cliche.

I was about to name a character earlier today and decided his name was Richard. Or Rich. Or maybe Richie. Then i remembered that he is wealthy, and i rolled my eyes and realized how stupid I'm being. And now i'm trying to figure out his wife's name, and nothing sounds "right".

i think i need to just relax. lol
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Postby TheMudge » Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:32 pm

You're NOT being stupid . . . I think it's pretty normal. The right name can make or break a character.

Read about one guy who always called his characters "Joe" because it was the easiest thing to type! Me, I tend to start out with an initial--something odd, like Y or X--and when the character names himself--and they always do--I do a universal replace.
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Postby pengwenn » Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:40 pm

You could do what I do when I first start out. I name each character A or B or C (sometimes AA so it doesn't get wipped out when I find/replace). Sometimes in the story I'm going to come up with the perfect name (but if I've been calling them Rich from the beginning I won't want to change it) and I'll start using that new, real name. I'll do a find/replace option in Word and replace all the AAs, Bs or Cs with whatever name I've come up with.

Sometimes I get a little bit too anal retentive and HAVE to have a valid name in there from the start. When this happens I start with the first character that gets mentioned and he/she gets a name starting with the letter A, the second person mentioned (even if they don't appear yet) gets a name starting with B, etc, etc. This way if I haven't figured out a name by the end of the story at least they have working names instead of seeing "C opened the door slowly and say K standing there soaked to the bone in a puddle of water."

Just try not to let a simple thing as naming a character (yes, I do knew how serious it can be) prevent you from getting the story out in the first place. If you wait for every little detail to fall into place before actually writing anything then you might not get the chance to write anything at all. Good luck!
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Postby charlesp » Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:41 pm

I've taken the old Sierra On-Line programming approach to picking a name... the main character is Ego until I come up with a name and then they get a universal search and replace like mudge does.

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Postby bfsooner » Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:05 pm

What I do is I create my main character, and then I look for a name that means what she is close her ethnicity. In my novel, my characters grow up in America, but they have Irish heritage, so they have Gaelic names (Nora and Cady are my two main characters).
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Postby Anblick » Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:43 pm

Or you can use a tool like this:

Random Name Generator
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Postby TheMudge » Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:54 pm

Hey, that's kinda cool. Be REALLY neat if that factored in ethnicity as well as gender . . .
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Postby Anblick » Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:58 pm

Well, you can try over and over again, too. There's also:

Everchanging Book of Names

You can get a couple at a time for free, or pay $10 for the unlocked version. Several "books" you can check that does take ethnicity into account, as well as many "worlds"...
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Postby calico » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:20 pm

Ah, thank you. I was planning on doing a universal find/replace. So far, i've named my main character "MC" and her husband is "HH". Her father is... you guessed it... "HF".
:)
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Postby TheMudge » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:24 pm

:lol:
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Postby charlesp » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:24 pm

there isn't a Father's Uncle is there?

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One day I realized that sadness is just another word for not enough coffee." - Wally (Dilbert)
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Postby TheMudge » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:45 pm

Felix Unger?
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Postby calico » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:01 pm

LOL... not yet.
I haven't even actually started writing the story yet- i've just been working on the outline and characters and the plot.
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Postby Mlou » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:12 pm

Calico...about the wealthy guy named Richie...sorry it's been taken. Remember Richie Rich, the poor little rich kid in the movie?
nothing is ever simply Yes or No. There's always a But...


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Postby charlesp » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:29 pm

Mlou wrote:Calico...about the wealthy guy named Richie...sorry it's been taken. Remember Richie Rich, the poor little rich kid in the movie?


I think that might have been why the rolling her eyes

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One day I realized that sadness is just another word for not enough coffee." - Wally (Dilbert)
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Postby Mlou » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:33 pm

Oh, I thought perhaps it was because he was wealthy and she'd called him Rich.
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Postby calico » Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:04 pm

Mlou wrote:Calico...about the wealthy guy named Richie...sorry it's been taken. Remember Richie Rich, the poor little rich kid in the movie?

yes, thats why it dawned on me that naming him "Rich" is really stupid.
I've since named them Sloane and Steve.
although, tomorrow they will probably be Cat and Jonah.
pilar

Postby pilar » Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:46 am

Thanks for that! I'll definitely use it. :wink: Anblick,
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Postby JillStar » Sat Jan 07, 2006 12:36 pm

TheMudge wrote:You're NOT being stupid . . . I think it's pretty normal. The right name can make or break a character.

Read about one guy who always called his characters "Joe" because it was the easiest thing to type! Me, I tend to start out with an initial--something odd, like Y or X--and when the character names himself--and they always do--I do a universal replace.

I do something similar... I often give my characters very average, short names to start off (or the initial thing) just to keep them clear in my head. Then when I finally figure out their real name, I do a search and replace in my word document.
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Postby hyperfine » Tue Jan 10, 2006 2:08 pm

I usually don't have much trouble naming my characters.

Every now and then I have to change names though, and THAT's difficult.
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Postby musthavebeenmykarma » Tue Jan 10, 2006 2:41 pm

I always use this site.

Behind the Name

It has a gigantic list of names, from early Norse myths to present day modern names including nicknames. It tracks the physical meaning of the name or any famous person who had the name, and how the name came into being. Also it has a chart of the popularity of each name for the past 100 years or so (I guess based on sensus? I don't know how, maybe the charts are BS... :-D )

You can search for names, or search for the meaning of the name, by gender and origin. Definately check it out.
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Postby calico » Tue Jan 10, 2006 5:15 pm

VERY cool! thank you. i've been having a hard time coming up with names because i'm writing a true story and don't want to substitue names like sue for the person who's name was Cassandra.
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Postby JillStar » Wed Jan 11, 2006 8:35 am

Yes... thanks Karma; very cool link.
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Postby UnCoolDuck » Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:02 am

I've been looking for some original-yet-not-corny names for a fantasy piece with little luck.

I think the site you posted, Karma, may have just solved my problem. You rock 8)
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Postby H.v.mars » Thu Jan 26, 2006 12:15 am

There's thousands of places to get names from! When I'm out of I deas I search for Baby name pages. Good thing about that kind of pages is that they also give out the name's origin and meaning. You can try to match the meaning to the story.

You can always resort to names you like, heard or made up even with everyday words. I have several characters named as coins (Nickel, Penny), some named as festivities (Valentine), others whose names are puns (Ashcroft Inkwell, Mathilda mittens, Chester cheesecake, Rusty randall) I think it also depends on the type of writing.

You can always also resort to look some cool names up on a telephone directory
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