Writing Meme: Day Three- Naming Characters

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?

Naming characters is one of my favorite things.  I know the process drives many other writers bonkers, but I find it a lot of fun.  It’s also thrilling because it is only when I know the character’s name that they truly start opening up to me.

My process?

Sometimes, there is no process at all.   Their name comes to me, and that’s it.

Other times, there is a bit of work.

First, I think of the period the story takes place and also their cultural background.    I’ll go to an online baby name site and scan down the names, jotting down the ones that stick out to me as fitting the character.  Sometimes, I immediately  know “this is THEIR name”  when I see it.  Other times, a few  names will duke it out.  In that case, I will write scenes with the different names until one becomes the evident winner.

As for naming places- a lot of times I don’t bother.   When I do- I just look up real place names for ideas and change accordingly.

What is your process?

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Published in: on September 25, 2010 at 10:49 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh you know me, I agonize over names to the point of paralysis. I’m still not sure I’m entirely happy with one character’s name, and it’s already been changed once.

  2. DD,

    Changed once? Heh. Got you beat by a mile. Beth went through every single variation of Elizabeth that you can imagine. And it took Anne forever to settle on her name. Each draft she was someone else. Only Daphne and Grace were like, “This is my name and don’t you even DARE try to change it!” 😉

  3. I’m lousy with names. I forget them, even after writing them down!

  4. Har har!


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