I have always had a fascination with you. As a teenager, I studied names. A lot. I could tell you the origin and meaning of soooo many. (N is also for Nerd, and yes, I am a giant one.) When it came to naming my kids, my hubby and I picked ones that we loved, and yes, my children have names from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, but they're names I adore with great meanings behind them.
Character names are so important, too. They're part of the characters' identities--sometimes the name helps define a character, and sometimes the character helps define the name. When it comes to naming characters, I have three primary ways of going about it:
1. The character waltzes up and introduces himself/herself. It doesn't matter what I think of the name; they are very insistent that this is them and I can just get over it.
2. I pour over baby name sites until the right name hits. I oftentimes know what letter the name should start with, so I'll hunt through the E names until I find the right one, or whatever other letter it is.
3. Depending on the story/character, sometimes it's just "throw a name and see what sticks."
When a character is named, most of the time it doesn't change. There have been a couple of exceptions to this. For example, when I first began plotting out my current novel, Rising, I was sure my character was going to be Alphonso. I was like, "Ooookay, that's the name you want, fine." Then, as I started to get a glimpse of his personality, I realized that he was very different than I thought he was going to be, and that Alphonso was a little too much for him. So he became Alphonse. It suited him much better. Amazing what changing one letter can do.
Sometimes, there are themes. In my 2009 NaNo* novel, I had the family with six girls, and they all had names from Greek mythology. In my 2010 NaNo novel, my character also had a name from Greek mythology. Fortunately, it was just one girl this time. It was a little different, though, because she was named after a male figure. (I may have a thing for mythology, okay?)
*NaNo is short for NaNoWriMo AKA National Novel Writing Month. It happens every November. More things that start with N, woot!
Once, I named a character from a street sign. Well, twice, but the second time was unintentional. I had searched high and low for the right name for this character, finally found one on a baby name site that fit, and then realized it was the name of the street on my corner. I should have just been looking at street signs instead of the baby name site and maybe I would have saved myself some time.
All in all, dear names, I really enjoy the process of finding the right one for the right character.
A Name Nerd
*How do you name your characters? What do you think of names of characters you read? If you're reading about a character with a name you hate or love, does that affect your thoughts on him/her?