I have such a hard time naming characters. I have a few “strategies,” if you can call them that, and they’ve served me well so far. But… if anyone has anything different to share- please let me know! I’m always open to new ideas!
Sometimes something pops into my head. Sometimes a letter does (oh, I have a lot of K names, now how about an S). Sometimes an implication or character trait demands attention (don’t worry, though- no “Sinestro“s here). I have one notable gentleman in Bloodletting who had his tongue cut out, and his interpreters, not so skilled with the language, introduce him as “Vow, of Silence.”
Sometimes I have a general sound in mind, but that gets complicated when you consider accents, which I post briefly about here.
But this is all complicated by one little thing: what am I writing about: humans, or a world without them? Here, my strategies diverge:
I generally research names in these cases. I think of an aspect I want to emphasize or contrast, like bravery, being well-grounded, or being absent-minded, and look up name meanings on one of the copious websites available. Or maybe the characteristic “speaks” for itself, as in the case of Vow. Sometimes I want a Celtic name, which helps narrow things down. And sometimes I just want a good, old fashioned, normal sounding name, with no real meaning. I have a lot of inspiration to work with.
But, mostly, I don’t write about humans. In a world with no humans, why would the roots be the same? Trying to come up with something by a direct approach often results in something vaguely Japanese sounding. I’ve had a few notable successes with the direct approach, but they’re limited… (Oh, how about an L name… with a sort of cute sound… but not too immature. I don’t want to make JK Rowling’s mistake and be stuck with Helga Hufflepuff in the middle of dark and sinister and quite serious plotstuffs five books later. More of my thoughts on that here.)
So I come up with gibberish using my favorite tactic: key-smash.
aorbvac… hmm… I wanted an S name, so that gives me Saorbvac… Sorva. Yeah, that’s an okay name, why not?
As you can see, this can be an often fruitless endeavor (wievraoiszxcv).
I’d love a better method.