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 Names, resources and otherwise
Bleedpretty
 Posted: Aug 28 2016, 10:41 AM
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i'm interested if anyone else struggles to name their characters at times or if a name just comes right to you?

it varies for me and sometimes it can be so frustrating! it's not even a matter of finding some kind of special sparkly snowflake name for my head babes so much as having a solid character in mind and not finding anything that feels as if it suits them!
other times it just pops right into my head with little to no thought.

do any of you have troubles naming characters? how do you pick names, do you look up their meaning and/or origins before using them or do you just use whatever pops in your head first?

also! what is your favorite site for ideas? personally i really like nameberry.

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Mog
 Posted: Aug 30 2016, 02:12 PM
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Most times for me a name will pop in my head. (Which is so so nice when it does) I always enjoy looking at the meanings before I pick them. It the meaning is odd or doesn't fit the character I have in mind, I sometimes just let it alone and hunt for another. I don't know why, it shouldn't matter but I do. I love love Biblical/Traditional names for some reason? Don't know why.

Babble is a site I've used before and liked. Other times I will do a quick google search for like names that start with a particular letter or idea (names for space cowboys, cool code names, etc.) Yahoo answers usually comes up for those types of searches. It amuses me to see what other people have asked and answered.

I'm having trouble naming on right now. You know why. wink.gif




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bird
 Posted: Aug 30 2016, 02:40 PM
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i'll be honest: i have definitely named characters (including two on this site) after baseball players i liked because 1. it was on when i was writing and 2. i suck at names.

mostly i just want it to sound good in my head and be appropriate for the character and their background -- which is where the baseball comes in, or another sport. "what are the most likely patronymics in russian" leads me to google, idk, the russian men's basketball team to do a quick survey (spoiler: why the fuck are so many russian dads 'sergey' or 'andrey', jesus christ russian names are boring); "what's a good surname for someone from the dominican republic" leads me to writers or local celebrities or athletes, and so on. often i find when i just take names from behindthename or similar they sound too... neat?? like either it feels like "john smith" or "wisteria alabaster johnson" or something like that, so it's nice to do that check to assure myself this still sounds like a name a human being would have*, especially if it's someone i'm writing outside of my own cultures. if i can't think of anything i will browse name lists, though.

afterwards i might google the meaning for fun or google to make sure the name i picked isn't an existing person/historical figure/what have you or a fictional character that someone created. but 99% of my criteria is just "does it sound good???"


* i can't remember where it is and i'll look for it, but for north americans or british folks, there are sites that track the abundance of certain names over decades. this serves the same function as the basketball-googling -- it's just that these things are tougher to access when you're writing about a character who isn't a westerner or white (since most of the data over those decades probably comes from white middle class WASP-y folks)

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SithLordOfSnark
 Posted: Sep 17 2016, 12:57 PM
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I use the random name generator at Behind the Name.
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knox
 Posted: Sep 25 2016, 12:50 PM
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a name is a name is a name

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i don't have much trouble when it comes to naming things. traits and appearances come first and the names often follow. occasionally the traits follow a name, but not usually. if they do it's a case of "haha this name is funny/cool. it would be great for a character who..."

i.e. trixie galoshes. that's a ridiculous name, but it's perfect for pulp sci-fi. i have to use it.

where is trixie galoshes from? a planet where there are no men.
what does trixie galoshes do? she's an assassin who likes pina coladas and stakeouts in the rain. what does she look like? humanoid, all sinew. maybe she has one or more distinguishing features that make her alien, like three sets of incredible eyes. two on her face, one in place of each nipple.
what does she wear? a clear, 60's inspired raincoat and matching boots.
what kind of weapons does she have? an umbrella gun and a poison tipped lipstick knife.

i've extracted some external attributes from one name and established a pliable framework (if somewhat archetypal) from those features. now i can start figuring out what i need to put into her to make her a compelling character!

i don't believe that names have to be symbolic, but they can be.

occasionally i'll use a sci-fi generator for kicks! referring to a baby name book/site is especially helpful when i have a name that is good enough, but like, not quite right and i want to find one that has a better ring to it.

i do like to do quick research when choosing a name for a character who is of an ethnic background i am not yet thoroughly informed on?? i'd never want to pick a name out of a hat and have it be unintentionally inappropriate or something someone of say arabic descent wouldn't name their child in a million years. or like, in the case of historical accuracy. not always that important, but it can make the character/story feel more real.

one that note, i sometimes draw inspiration from people i come by irl. i met a broker at work who had a really interesting name (i don't remember it rn) and i jotted it down somewhere for future use.

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i'm climbing thru your contacts, snatching your names up
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Poette
 Posted: Nov 15 2016, 10:10 PM
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The short answer is one of the various baby name websites out there for first name, usually starting at a specific letter. Definitely ethnic/racial/geographic background is considered when picking a name.

For last names, it is a little more complicated and often involves searching google for common last names within whatever context I'm looking for.

I get really frustrated when I don't end up liking the name. I will occasionally write down names I like, but often forget about them by the time I pick up a new role play.

I am also guilty of just making up a name that sounds like a name but isn't one (for fantasy and sci-fi mostly) or just not naming a character, because like, it's not actually necessary??
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eurekagold
 Posted: Jul 4 2017, 01:58 AM
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Oh boy, this varies so much with me. The type of character plays a big part in how hard they are to name. For fae characters, demons, dragons, etc., I typically make up names or go with something from the region where their mythology originated. In the later case, I very often consider the meaning. I figure they are probably borrowing the names from humans, so they would have likely looked at the name meaning (or at least considered how the name sounds) before naming their child.

In some cases, for my non-humans, I use name generators. Angelic, elven, demonic, etc. My demon, Gader'el was named after a more famous demon. He doesn't really share many traits with his namesake, but I figure other species probably have popular names based on "celebrity" names, just like we do.

With humans, I frequently go with how the name sounds more than what it means, unless I have a good grasp of the characters parents' personalities. When a baby is born, we usually have no idea what personality, traits, etc. the eventual adult will have. You could end up with a Grace who is a complete klutz, or a Charity who is very selfish. In some cases, my characters will have a name they are given at birth, then they will decide to change their name, for whatever reason.

Surnames are a similar mixed bag. If the family has a fairly defining trait (as do many Naruto clans, or perhaps elemental fae), I often go by name meaning. Otherwise, I look up names from their area of origin and pick one that seems to fit.

Sometimes I just think a name sounds cool, and they arbitrarily get said name. For all the fuss we make about names, they are really one of the least important points for us. How many Sarahs are out there? I've worked with two others and had three others in my high school Spanish class. We were all pretty different personalities. Our name did nothing to define us, other than to say our parents liked a name that was common at the time. Names might say a little about the time period or culture the person came from, but rarely do they actually do anything to the individual. Despite that, they are useful literary devices to give a hint to the nature of the character, even if that rarely works in real life. The one big example I could think of where they might affect the person is if they are named after someone who is really important to them for whatever reason. They might try to emulate that person to live up to the name.

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