Sunday, August 28, 2011

How do you come up with character names?

It varies, generally depending on how serious I am about the story. If I’m expecting that the story will be short or it might not hold my interest for long, the characters are the first interesting names that come to my mind (or more often, my friend’s mind: “I need a boy’s name!” “Johnathan!” “Thanks!”)

For stories that I have a feeling that are going to hang around for a while, I like to go to and surf through meanings. Before I name a character I ask myself what his/her ethnicity is (or where the family line came from) so that I can shoot for something that fits well.

I have a fondness for nicknames. Usually I like names that are long and can be shortened to a nice single syllable. That’s likely because almost everyone in my circle of friends and family had short names. “Mom.” “Dad.” “Jack.” “Ross.” So the tendency caries over to my characters. “Clement” shortened to “Clem.” “Syaoran” shortened to “Sy.” and so on.

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