How do I name characters?
Well that is a question that I am finding hard to answer. There are instances when characters are inspired by real people, this can be tricky, I try not to use real names for real people ever, as you may have noticed. To a degree I respect their privacy. But I also am aware that sounds like a contradiction. Yes, I still tell the story, it is my story, I make it principle that I still give the opportunity to have a degree of privacy. That being said, I am unlikely to use the names of people that mean a lot to me in general, just because again I respect their privacy and because they are precious to me. I am also unlikely to ever name a character a name I would like to name my kids if I ever have them. Partly because it would feel weird to me but partly because I don’t want to presume that it won’t influence who they become as adults. Weird huh?
Characters in a different sense still have that feeling of being almost children, it’s hard to describe. We create them. Sometimes naming them feels impossible, some characters go through a few names until there is one that fits them just right. Its natural.
So, originally I started searching for names via baby naming websites, that can be frustrating, you can however see the meanings which is something I often take into account. Although occasionally it really is just what feels right for the character and their journey. So it can also be easy to end up very split in a name no matter how hard you try. The most recent way that I have chosen to name the characters on a project is to go through a cheap (literally 2 quid) baby name book I picked up, go through and underline names I like and write down names that might be appropriate and to take note of the meanings. Once this is done I got cracking on the fun side of the work which is the writing and the plotting finished. But no once I had a list of names at least 20 to each gender. Then I got cracking on choosing the names appropriate to the story and then made a clear note. Some characters changed their original name in this process.
Sure it can be tricky, of course there are names that naturally appeal to being used for certain characters. I know for a fact there are maybe two or three names that have been used a few times for a few characters. It happens, there are certain characters that just appeal to those names. I do try to find other names but sometimes it just fits to re-use them.
There are odd characters with significant names. Sometimes they are just by nature a character who makes me smile that gets that names.
But not all characters are created equal. Much like when you read a book there are characters that you don’t like there are names you don’t really like so of course they go hand in hand with one another. That being said I don’t always use those names.
I didn’t realise how hard I would find this question.
I name characters in a way that I try to relate their journey or who they are or what they symbolise. That is the core of it. Some of it really is just fun, choosing a name that just feels like that is going to be the right choice.
I don’t know how people name their kids, but pets I can deal with sometime is just is choosing something that suits their personalities.
May luck and adventure be on your side!
Here is the cheeky little link for The Diary of Elliot Parker available now!!