I've read a lot about character naming on Twitter recently so I decided to blog about it. I love names and naming characters has always been fun for me. I'm kind of a name collector. I keep a database of names I like and several resources for naming at my fingertips.
When it comes down to choosing a name, I tend to go by my gut feeling. Often a name just feels right for that person. However, I do take some other things into consideration that may also help you name your characters.
Age - When was the character born? Certain names or styles of names come and go. Look at lists of popular names from his or her birth year.
Culture - Every culture has its own set of favorites and naming patterns. If the culture is not your own, do your research to accurately name your character.
Time Period/Genre - Different times, different names. And some genres (sci-fi and fantasy for example) cater to more unusual names or naming styles.
Pronunciation - Say the name out loud. Is it a struggle to pronounce? Will most in your audience know how to pronounce it?
The Name Palette - Look at the big picture as well as the individual you're naming. Are the names cohesive but different? It's like a color scheme. You want colors to coordinate but not necessarily match. Write out the names side-by-side. If things look too identical, consider swapping some of them out.
I keep a list of potential names for each character. Names that seem to jive, I use on a trial basis. I'll call the character by that name, write it out with different surnames, and let the character live with that name for a short time.
So where can you find names to try out in the first place? Stay tuned for part two and a long list of naming resources.