Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival" where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing-or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This week's question is:
How do you decide on names? Would you ever name a character after a friend/family member/ex?
My WIP is sci-fi and takes place about thirty years from now, so I wanted to find names that weren’t trendy and current, but also not so bizarre that they sounded really futuristic. What worked for me was to comb through lists of names from different cultures. This opened up a lot more variety and also added to a global feel in my story. I did use a few traditional names, mainly because those particular characters seemed to emerge from my imagination with their names already attached.
It’s amazing how many hours can be put into searching for just the right name to reflect a character’s personality, or how a unique name can actually help a character take shape. Sometimes I’ll tentatively choose a name and find that the character sort of grows into it, and then I can’t imagine him/her being called anything else.
More often than not though, I have an idea of what I’m looking for in terms of the sound of a name or what sort of image I want that name to project. In certain cases I get hung up on quirky things, for example, in my current WIP I wanted my mc to have a name that began with “N”. Don’t know why, but that just seemed right to me. Another character I could only picture with a floral name. Maybe that’s odd, but I think it’s my gut telling me what sort of name will compliment a character, even if I can’t put my finger on the exact name yet.
As for the second question, I prefer not to name characters after anyone I know. I want to associate my characters’ names with their personalities and not with real people. The exception to this is last names. I did use the surname of an ancestor in my family tree for a character in a contemporary romance I’m writing. That’s not so distracting though, seeing as I didn’t actually know my great-great-great-great-great grandmother. And I really love the name, so I couldn’t resist. :)
So how do you go about naming your characters? Any tips or quirky hang ups in your decision making process?