So someone asked me last week: how do you name characters? Do you just pull it out of the air, google, a baby naming site? What do you use?
For most, or maybe all my ‘good’ characters, I go with variations of names of friends, family, associates, places, TV shows, neighbours, school mates, church brethren. Whoever you are, once I’m familiar with you, chances are your name or a variation on it will wind up in my manuscripts.
And no, that doesn’t contradict the claim that all characters, etc., are fictional, and any similarities are mere coincidence. Because my characters are never like the people I know. If I had that many people around me that made as many outright dumb mistakes and stupid decisions as the ones I write about, I’d need 1. new friends and 2. a new family. Because there’s no way I’d be staying in the middle of crazy town willingly.
So, for example, my sisters’ name are the names of the leading characters in Knot a Liar: Jodi and Sam. Jodi comes from Jodiann, but Sam comes from Samantha. And yes, Sam is a man in the book. His name is short for Samuel but since he hates his birth name, he asks people to call him Sam.
Paige in Let Me Fall comes from Payje which is an exboyfriend’s name (still not his real name). Paige in LMF is a girl who cheated on her boyfriend and subsequently went through some tough times. Payje, as far as I know, is still happily married and still not a cheater.
Savannah in Knot thy Enemy comes from the town of Savannah la Mar in Jamaica (my nation of birth and residence). It literally means grassland by the sea. I’ve always loved that name so when I finally got around to KTE, I pounced. Daniel comes from 2 places, Daniel from one of my favourite Bible stories and Danny from Baby Daddy (man, I love that crazy show!).
For Insert Bride Here, Cidoney comes from a college friend. Her name was so unique to me (at the time it was the first I heard anyone with the name) that it stuck over the years. Hers, though, was spelled Sydoney and when I found this alternative spelling I grabbed it. I can’t tell where Tyler came from, honestly. I think that dude named himself because I doubt I thought twice before his name went down on paper.
For Under Summer’s Sky, (this year’s Nano) Summer and Wynter’s names came like that. I’ve always wanted to have a play on names. For example, in The Flash where Dr. Snow is Killer Frost. Or even something like someone as dumb as rocks having the name Einstein. And so was born Summer, whose life so far is anything but sunshine and roses. Nicolas Wynter, though, lives up to his name. Or does he? Furthermore, I hope you also made the immediate connection between Summer and Winter. The polar opposites as far as seasons go.
While that mostly covers the good ‘good’ characters, when I name characters of the less than stellar morality, things get tricky. For antagonists, I get as removed from reality as possible. I straight up stalk baby books, babynames[dot]com and other similar sites. I never associate antagonists with real people. (Well, I may copy a behaviour or mannerism here and there, but those are things only I and the characters know about.)
Overall, when I name characters, it’s never difficult for me. Writing the characters as they present themselves sometimes is a whole ‘nother matter entirely, though. Although, sometimes, if I name characters like I do with Summer and Wynter, it does help to iron out their personalities better, because nothing beats knowing who you’re writing.