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Thread: How do you come up with character names?

  1. #21
    Member themooresho's Avatar
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    Fantasy is kind of a pain when it comes to names.

    For my main characters I put a lot of thought into their names, trying to make it sound just right to fit their personality, but they're always made up. For less important characters, I will take a normal name and modify it slightly. So Paul becomes Paus, Jacob becomes Ianco, Paula becomes Palla, etc. For the supernatural beings in my story, that's actually more work than even my main characters, especially the gods of the mythology I've created. The names are all to varying degrees based on certain practices of Qabalah, specifically Gematria (a form of numerology using Hebrew letters instead of Greek or Latin letters like most numerology does).

    One technique I used for a supernatural creature was to make his name derived from the role he performs. So in this case, he is a spirit who defends the captian of a ship. So I remove take, "defends the captain of a ship", reducing it to the important words, "defends captain ship", then I reduce it further to the initials, "DCS". Then I put in vowels to make it sound right, "Decus".

    So lets say you have a character who is the Knight-Marshal of the King's Army. You'll take the first letters of the keywords to get "KMKA", then put in random vowels to make it sound good, and you get "Kemika". Say you don't like how that looks, so you change it to "Kemica". So now you have Lord Kemica, Knight-Marshal of the King's Army.

  2. #22
    For me, it depends upon what genre my current piece is.
    If it's fantasy, then I just smash my keyboard and take excerpts of the result, and combine them, like so: gjrwierdfzmuifd becomes Muifez, and sjzgiunjisarour becomes Unjiroursa. Simple. Or I mumble a strand of gibberish and figure out how that would be spelled.
    On the other hand, I could be writing realistic fiction. Then I dig through baby name books, sites, and sometimes even name generators until I find a name that is uncommon and cool. It helps if the name reminds me of the character's personality. I always think of the name Carol as a good name for a story in the 1800's. It brings "the confectioner's daughter" to my mind.

  3. #23
    I picture my characters personailities, and try to name them from that. Also their age, and the time-era of the book has to be taken into consideration. There likely weren't very many Zoolanders' in the 1930s. But on second thought? There like aren't many now, either! :0)

    I tried using the names of people I personally know in my book, but I couldn't get past it. Everytime I would read their name, I pictured the face of the person I know, not my character. So, I had to scratch that, and now I know I can't use real people's names. Unless they aren't very close to me of course.

    At work I deal with sooooooo sooooo many different people, that sometimes when I see their name in our database, I'll steal it! Lol. I'll scroll through list after list, looking for unique names instead of working sometimes! Just because I'm dedicated to my job like that! Lol
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  4. #24
    Member themooresho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunny View Post
    I picture my characters personailities, and try to name them from that. Also their age, and the time-era of the book has to be taken into consideration. There likely weren't very many Zoolanders' in the 1930s. But on second thought? There like aren't many now, either! :0)

    I tried using the names of people I personally know in my book, but I couldn't get past it. Everytime I would read their name, I pictured the face of the person I know, not my character. So, I had to scratch that, and now I know I can't use real people's names. Unless they aren't very close to me of course.

    At work I deal with sooooooo sooooo many different people, that sometimes when I see their name in our database, I'll steal it! Lol. I'll scroll through list after list, looking for unique names instead of working sometimes! Just because I'm dedicated to my job like that! Lol
    You must work in a call center like me. I've come across some pretty interesting names in my tenure here, though I've never used them in my writing. More to laugh at than anything else.

  5. #25
    Not a call center, but I do talk to a lot of people. Calling a lot of people, a lot of people calling me. I feel like it should be a call center! ;0)
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  6. #26
    I've been struggling with this since we stopped getting the phone book.

  7. #27
    Member Rustgold's Avatar
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    To hijack to thread.

    I'm looking for a name like Claire which would be ambiguous as to whether it's a first name or a surname.

    Best I've come up with is Klaranda or Klarassa; but I'm not sure if they sound fine or totally stupid. It also needs to make sense for it to be shortened to Claire.

    Thoughts?
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  8. #28
    There was a big trend in girl's names a few years ago -- using surnames as first names. Examples: Marley, Sloane, Madison, Brooks, Ainslee, Ashley, Chastain -- probably more I'm not thinking of.

    Those are ambiguous -- but I don't think you have many options if it needs to be shortened to Claire.

  9. #29
    Member Rustgold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JosephB View Post
    There was a big trend in girl's names a few years ago -- using surnames as first names. Examples: Marley, Sloane, Madison, Brooks, Ainslee, Ashley, Chastain -- probably more I'm not thinking of.

    Those are ambiguous -- but I don't think you have many options if it needs to be shortened to Claire.
    Those names are too normal to use in any case. It doesn't need to be a real name, just not completely stupid. Not sure if those I came up with crosses that boundary from 'yes I understand the shortening from an odd name,' to 'that's plain stupid'.
    Caution : Doesn't come with 1698-B sanity certificate
    I'd kill for a blueberry scroll, or maim for a apple one. Alas...

  10. #30
    Hilary and Leslie come to mind
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