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Jessica Steiner ([personal profile] jessicasteiner) wrote2013-04-30 07:55 pm

Z is for Zaccheus Zahara - Character Names #atozchallenge

Okay, I wasn't going to double up and instead was just going to finish on May 1st, but then I just decided to go for it and get this finished.

One of the things that I've always struggled with is names. Names of characters in particular. Now, I've already talked about language formation, and there is definitely some information in there that is helpful for making alien names. But what about the rest of the names?

Firstly, I try to think about what sort of name I want. I think about the feeling of the name - should it be short or long, smooth or harsh? Should the name evoke any particular ideas, or feelings? Is there any particular ethnicity or nationality that the character should come from? Do you want to reference anything with the name, such as a particular meaning or historical figure? The choices I make are helpful in settling on a name in the end.

For example, when I named the main character of Dreaming - Prescott Samuel Cox - I was naming a lawyer, from a family of lawyers. I wanted the name to sort of sound like that. I also wanted Sam to be embarrassed of his first name, because it was so traditional and old-fashioned, and so he goes by his middle name. In the Dream world, everyone calls him by his true name, Prescott. It's one way that I differentiate the book between when Sam is in the real world, or in the dream world.

Once I've figured out a few criteria, then I mine various sources for actual names to use. I get names from a couple sources. Sometimes I'll steal a first or last name from a person I know (A few characters' last or first names are the same as one of my clients - but never both!!)

Mostly all I do is google for baby names. There are a tonne of websites with first names that you can choose from. There are also a tonne of websites with lists of surnames by nationality. There are websites that allow you to search by letter, by nationality, by meaning. When you start scanning lists, you will probably find something you like.

I hope you've enjoyed this month and all of my tips. I'll be putting all of these posts together, editing them and fleshing them out, and putting out a book. If you've liked the information in these posts, I hope you like the final version.