For my husband and I, coming up with names for our children was not anywhere near as eruptive as I’d always heard people say it could be. After all, it’s a name, and while you want your child to have a name that is meaningful, it shouldn’t send anyone to marriage counseling.
That said, naming my fictional characters has proven a much harder task.
There are, of course, obvious reasons for this. My characters are, most often, adults, fully-formed (at least in the physical sense–mentally and emotionally, let’s be honest, we always have work to do) and therefore it seems their name should reflect their identity. (Unlike, obviously, an infant who grows into a name–or doesn’t and changes it as soon as it is legally possible.)
We think we know what a Jeffrey looks and acts like, or a Winifred or a Jasmine, and we want the name to help our reader get to know our character. But even nicknames of one name can elicit different identities: William versus Willy. Elizabeth versus Lizzie. And then there’s the problem of last names…
Now before the internet, when I was stumped, I used to sit with a phone book to find my character names. In my head, I already knew their personalities, their looks, their histories–but sometimes, even knowing all that, their name eluded me. Sometimes it’s a Shazam-moment, sometimes it’s more organic and sometimes I go through half a draft and then decide Hannah should be Fran. But after years of writing, I still find character names don’t come easily to me.
Anyone else have this challenge? Any tips or tricks to naming?