Welcome to the Big Reveal
I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
What’s your process for naming characters?
Picking names is kind of easy for me and also my favorite thing about writing. They usually come from dreams, people I know or sometimes they simply fall in my lap.
Usually it’s random, but Stealing the Stars was different. Most of them are named after my siblings (I have five siblings, so plenty to choose from) and the main girl is named after a constellation
If I like how a name sounds, I’ll jot it down and save it for a story. I’ve used baby books as well as online baby name searches. Also, I use my kids class lists from school.
I have a spreadsheet filled with names I chose from a baby-naming site for the year my characters would have been born. I check those off when I use them.
I love to create names: Terror, Dreems, Watcher… Names always find my characters. If I don’t have one I just start writing without one and suddenly it appears as if by magic. Sometimes they evolve. Once I had Penny and Peers in the same book and all the P’s were driving me nuts but he had to be Peers and she needed an –y name (no idea why). So I changed her to Hadley and everyone was much happier. Sometimes I research them to make sure they fit with the time period, the culture, or that they stand out among the other names in the book, (I avoid Mitch, Marc and Mathew as brothers… But Andrew, Jip and Kim seems to work!). Some characters just need a small snappy name and others need a longer name that can be shortened to something sexier. I do love to use baby books to see what a name means, especially for a secondary character because if I need someone strong on the sidelines should he be Charlie or Charles or Chuck? These little details matter to the magic.
To be honest, I never really thought much about this. Character names have never been a struggle for me. Book titles… now that is a completely separate story! I’ve been known to go through my kid’s school directory, saying the names out loud until one clicks. But my characters have pretty traditional names, so I usually come up with one rather quickly.
What’s your character naming process?