Wednesday, December 19, 2012

RTW: How I Name Characters

Wow, I haven't done a YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday in forever...  (although, on my current side of the world, it is already Thursday...)

This week's question is How do you decide on names? Would you ever name a character after a friend/family member/ex?

There are a few ways that character names come to me.

1. They are just magically there when I think up a character, and the fits absolutely perfectly and I love it and can't imagine any other name.

2. I can't think up a character name right away, so I think up a placeholder name. Eventually, I can't think of the character by anything but the placeholder name, so the placeholder name is then no longer a placeholder, but the character's actual name.

3. I can't for the life of me think of a good name, and I spend hours and hours on end scouring and other useless baby names sites where all of the names are really weird or unpronouncable. After that, I spend days asking family and friends for names that they like and they answer oh so helpfully with names of other family members. Or my name. At that point I usually go back to #2. (So, no, I wouldn't name a character after someone I knew. Mostly because I'm sure they would forever think oh, so that's what she thinks of me? Is that supposed to be what I'm like? etc).

So! That's my very inefficient way of thinking up character names. How do you think up character names? Maybe you could give me some tips...


  1. Wow! It's been a while since I was last here.

    For the longest time I used the same system as you. Since I write fantasy, I also used to mash the keyboard and then make an anagram out of those letters.

    But recently I decided it was time to come up with a better system. If you read books like The Lord of the Rings, you can tell the someone's gender and hometown/home-region by their name, even their lineage. So I came up with typical naming conventions (prefixes, suffixes, etc.) specific to each of the races as regions in my world. It's working well so far!

    Sweet post, Gracie! ;)

  2. I use placeholder names, but they're usually so terrible I have to change them (think Jack, Jane, Sally, or Bob). Picking names is tough! I try to get something a little bit different, but not so weird that people wouldn't know how to pronounce them.

  3. Hey Alyssa, I followed your comment from YA Highway, and I'm happy to see that we have similar ways of naming characters, although I tend to think you might be a bit more sane about the way you do it. I use placeholder names, although when I started my book, I didn't realize they were just place holder, and it took me a while to figure that out. But unlike you, once I realized it, they had to go, which led to the hours of time spent on name websites, asking people's opinions, and generally just being confused, only to come up with what was in many cases, yet another placeholder! Maybe I should try to keep those placeholders a little longer and see if they grow on me :-)

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. I have named a few minor characters after exes. They are mean to the protagonist. Ha. :)


Hey there! I really treasure every comment... whether it just be a hello or a deeper thought. I love hearing your thoughts! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...