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tally
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎06-15-2007
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Character names.

Hi, I have a question. I'm working on a novel, but I'm having trouble deciding on the name for the main character. How do you guys come up with the names for your characters? Is it something that you put a lot of thought into or do you think it is not of great importance in the story and just pick one that sounds good?

-Tal
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doeyeou2
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎04-24-2007
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Re: Character names.

Names can be very subjective, someone you're comfortable with...

or can be a name to show strength (Morgan) or weakness (Willy)

can be a name to show social status (Clare) or ethnic group (Shawn)

can be a name to show easy going spirit (Wally) or stern personality (Mr. Thomas).

Cheers,
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MC_Sage
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎06-16-2007
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Re: Character names.

Well i usually go with what sounds good for the character. I don't put too much thought into it. The personality i create for the character in a way picks a name that fits. You know if your leading lady is more of an Elizabeth than a Jane.
New User
tally
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎06-15-2007
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Re: Character names.

Yeah, I usually do that. But for some reason none of the names I've looked at fit.
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Paul_Ulrich
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Registered: ‎06-17-2007
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Re: Character names

Hi, Tally.

I put a lot of thought into the names of the main and supporting characters for my recently published, first novel, SAUDI MATCH POINT. You can read more about the book's characters and plot at this webpage on the publisher's website: (www.blacksmithbooks.com/9628673254.htm).

I used foreign words or biblical references for some of the names, which give perceptive readers clues to the characters' personalities or roles in the story. This technique of putting meanings into names is a kind of literary device that I've disguised in a story, which on the surface reads easily, like pulp fiction.
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midlight21
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Character names.

[ Edited ]
I tend to choose names based on their meaning, how they sound out loud, how they fit the character, what their initials would be should they have a first, middle and last name. It's like choosing a name for a baby. It takes time and research to find the perfect name.

Message Edited by midlight21 on 06-18-2007 12:24 AM
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bmeekers
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎06-25-2007
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Re: Character names.



tally wrote:
Yeah, I usually do that. But for some reason none of the names I've looked at fit.




I'm having the same predicament. Nothing fits. I guess you just have to keep looking.
-Bee
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dragonastia
Posts: 25
Registered: ‎06-24-2007
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Re: Character names.

[ Edited ]
sometimes, if the book is fiction, you can make up a name, or if you want something to sound exotic.

but overall, don't put too much effort into a name. just run through a list and if you like one, try it. You can always change it. that's why it's your book not somebody else's.

Message Edited by dragonastia on 06-25-2007 04:53 PM
Matthew Renivan
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perforatedxhearts
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎06-28-2007
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Re: Character names.

I'm not sure that you should be concentrating on the character's names more than how their personalities work out in your story.

But names don't always come so easily. Just look through some magazines, there's plenty of names in there to give thought to. You'll find the perfect name soon enough.
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crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Character names.

look at it this way: Character names shouldn't be important, unless they should be important.

If your story sucks, it's probably not going to solve anything to give your characters the perfect names. Comparatively, if the rest of the story is an epic masterpiece, then the names of characters will also not matter so much; although, if you've written an epic masterpiece then you've probably already nailed most of the names as well...

If you are struggling with any part of writing any story, don't let it keep you from writing!! Don't blame Names for any lack of inspiration and perspiration put into your writing!! Write scenes, conflicts, resolutions, anything and everything else that pertains to your story, call your characters Hero, Love Interest, Villain, Protagonist/Antagonist, or A B C D, whatever you need to label them just so you remember who they all are, and WRITE THE STORY!

a cool thing about most word processor software is the EDIT function, specifically the Find/Replace/Replace All function; you can name any character any name, then, if you later decide to change that name, just use the Replace/Replace All function to revise your whole story in one click of the mouse!

but, ya, in general, names shouldn't be holding you back as far as writing a story...
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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historybuff234
Posts: 536
Registered: ‎02-08-2007
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Re: Character names.



tally wrote:
Hi, I have a question. I'm working on a novel, but I'm having trouble deciding on the name for the main character. How do you guys come up with the names for your characters? Is it something that you put a lot of thought into or do you think it is not of great importance in the story and just pick one that sounds good?

-Tal




I just pick a name that I think fits the character's nature and role. Or one that I like, although last names can be hard. Names are just hard for me if it's a foreign character, any advice on that? The nationality that is one of the hardest is French, and I'll list some other later. I find myself mixing names of my favorite authors from that country to come up with a last name, like Hugerne( Hugo and Verne). Or like Chekstoy(Chekhov and Tolstoy).
The important thing, is to keep the important thing the important thing.
-Albert Einstein
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GretchenStone
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎06-29-2007
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Re: Character names.

Something that has helped me is reading obituaries. It awakened/reminded me of the change in generations. For generations of women you might find-Beaulah, Evelyn,Carolyn, Laura, and the youngest in line: Emma. Somewhere in there would be a Kim or Tracy. Next is ethnic preferences. If your character is African American, her name probably would not be Carol. If she is an exotic dancer, MaryJane doesn't fit. Look at age, race, lifestyle first.

Then make sure your characters don't have similiar names. Readers don't want to constantly ask themselves is Cheryl or Cherry the nice one. Nor, do you the writer want to keep track of which sister is Deborah and which is Diana.
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Paul_Ulrich
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Registered: ‎06-17-2007
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Generic Character Names

[ Edited ]
Last year, I wrote a screenplay, THE SCARLET BAND, and just used generic names: "Mouth" for the narrator and protagonist, who is the story's mouthpiece and gets in trouble for an ill-advised remark, "Sister" for his sister, "Father" for his father, "Mother" for his mother, "Boss" for the villain, an evil communist-party boss, and so on.

The takes place in Guangxi, China and spans a decade from China's great famine to the height of the Cultural Revolution. If my first novel, SAUDI MATCH POINT, does well, I may novelize this screenplay (turn it into a novel). One reason I didn't use Chinese names is for ease of reading, and if I had used ones with symbolic Chinese meanings, very few readers would have noticed anyway.

I submitted the script for workshopping through the Internet and got positive feedback about it. As far as I can remember, none of the twenty or so readers commented on the absence of actual names.

Message Edited by Paul_Ulrich on 06-30-2007 05:05 AM
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historybuff234
Posts: 536
Registered: ‎02-08-2007
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Re: Generic Character Names

[ Edited ]
That's a cool idea Paul, I wouldn't have a problem with Chinese names. Why? Because some of my close friends are Chinese, they speak it quite well and one one is fluent in it. They are bothing goign this summer to China.

What is that novel you mentioned, Saudi Match Point. It sounds good.

I have never heard of these work shops where you submit things to them. Tell me more about it.

Just to let you all know, I'm going on vacation for a week so I might respond very quickly(if all until I get back) to any of your posts.

Message Edited by historybuff234 on 06-30-2007 02:42 PM
The important thing, is to keep the important thing the important thing.
-Albert Einstein
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Paul_Ulrich
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Registered: ‎06-17-2007
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Re: Generic Character Names

There are two free online workshops for screenplays: triggerstreet.com and zoetrope.com. For novels, you can workshop a chapter at a time through a listserv run by the University of Pennsylvania. It's called the Internet Writers Workshop.

All of these, of course, require you to critique the works of others in return for getting feedback.

As for SAUDI MATCH POINT, you can see a brief summary of the book's premise, a sample from the prologue, and an online ordering form at the publisher's website: blacksmithbooks.com
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Andrea11
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Character names.

Over time, I purchased several baby name books. I even have one based on the best names for different astrological signs. When I come up with a name I check to make sure the meaning doesn't conflict with my character's traits. Sometimes just leafing through the pages can give you the stimulation you need to come up with great names. There is also a book called the reverse name dictionary. If you need a name that means something like "strong" you can look up strong and it will give you a list of names from different cultures that have that meaning.
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dianaprince
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Registered: ‎10-11-2007
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Re: Character names.

Hans Biedermann (it might be the "e" before the "i") wrote a fascinating book about symbolism. I have been using it for character's surnames ever since I bought it. Another way to create names is to look at the names of your favorite books' heroes/heroines. For surnames, another method is to think of about three of your favorite authors. For example, Rowling + Lisle + Townley = "Rowlisley", for a great character's surname. Please don't copy that, though!!!
"Adventure is worthwhile in itself" -- Amelia Earhart
May the Force of Fashion Sense be With You!! :smileyvery-happy:
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CuzEveryoneLovesACullen
Posts: 102
Registered: ‎05-31-2008
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Re: Character names.

It kind of depends on your writing style.
~If you like sarcasm/irony, you could have the names reflect that.  The character is lowborn or not-aristrocratic, name her something like Jessica Noble.
~If you want something silly, go for a famous person's name..."Nathan Lane" gets a lot of laughs (especially if you name your star-quarterback/ladies' man after him.)
~If you're trying to make your story more personal, include your friends name; my friend Nicole is fun and a little crazy so I named a character that had a similar personality after her.
~If your story takes place in a different era or the characters are from a different time (think time travel) make sure their name fits their time period.  Don't name a heroine from the late 1800s Sami...a name like Elizabeth fits better.
~Finally (and this is going to sound really random but...) lots of times I just pull out a yearbook and randomly pick a person and use their first name. Then I pick another person and use their last name.  Wait, I'll find my yearbook and give you an example....ok, the first person is Danica....the second person's last name is White.  Danica White. TaDa!
 
I hope this helps some.
xXxXxXxXx
If we know the way we're gonna die, through all the rest we will survive ~The Academy Is... LAX to O'Hare
Yue
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Yue
Posts: 74
Registered: ‎03-03-2008
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Re: Character names.

It comes down to these questions - does your characters name have any significance to you? Does it have a meaning that defines who he/she is? Does it have any appeal? Can it pertain to the overall story?
 
Remember the more you think about your character the better. Because your the only one who will know them for who they truely are and I would think that his/her name can benefit towards how your readers will view them.
"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in it's own way." ~Leo Tolstoy
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Evanescence2008
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎07-31-2008
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Re: Character names.

Here are a few suggestions. 

 

-If there is someone you know who is similiar to your character you can use their name.  Or if it's in dedication to them you can use there name.  If you look at Nicholas Sparks he's used names mostly from his family members (he's used his son Miles name in a few of his works).

 

-Depending on the time period the story is being written you need to make sure that the name fits that time period.  Take Elizabeth for example, it was a very common English name a few hundred years ago.  You don't want to use the name Roxanne when your writing a novel based during the early part of the 20th Century (1900's).

 

-In my story I had no trouble picking my male characters name-Garrett (he's a vampire with a mysterious, sad past) and it just seemed to stick.  Plus I've always like the name.  However, since he was born about one hundred and eighty years ago he had changed his name from Jonathan to a few other names until you have the modern name Garrett (he did this to hide the fact that he's a vampire and has lived that long.)  Now on the other hand, I changed my female's name about three times until I stuck with the one I have now.  I started out with Isabella, then went to Emma, and finally chose Natalie.  Natalie seemed to fit the character so it's not a bad to start writing something and change the characters name to one that will fit their personality better.