Over at Faithwriters there is an excellent article called Seven Tips for Naming Characters. It set me to thinking about how character naming is more important to some writers than to others.
I'm sure there are some writers that could just pluck a name at random from a name book and use it for a character--- if they came up with 'Carol' that would be just as good as any other name and they'd have no problem with it.
Other writers agonize. I have one character who commonly goes by the name 'Mina Bayern'. Some time ago I came up with the absolute perfect name for her actual family name (which is also the name of her House, a clan-like grouping). But I don't know where (or if) I wrote it down and it's driving me crazy and I can't just pick another name because it won't be the right one.
Because of this name-obsessiveness I collect a lot of name books. I have one or two ordinary baby name books, 2 baby name books in German, a book of Esperanto names, and a book of Celtic names. I also have an encyclopedia of the Saints. I also have a hand-written list of Korean names gleaned from Korean dramas over the last 4 years.
Some writers have a real talent for coming up with appropriate names. J. K. Rowling comes to mind. Think of the names of Hagrid, Dumbledore, Severus Snape, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, or Lord Voldemort. Aren't they just-right names for the characters?
Romance novels tend to have romance-y names for the heroine and her love-object. Some realistic writers make a point of using the most commonplace names they can find, one almost might think they derive the names from common-name lists. Science fiction names can include the weird, the unpronounceable and the randomly hyphenated. (like F'nor in Dra'gonride'rs of P'ern)
It's also possible to use temporary names for minor characters--- like Mr. Alpha, Miss Beta, Senator Gamma--- to keep the flow of your writing going rather than stopping for an hour to name them.
So--- how do YOU handle the name thing? How important is the just-right name to you? Do you have naming methods that you use? Please let us know in a comment!
A NAME GAME:
Here are eight Korean female names: Namju, Haebi, Dohui, Chunja, Boksun, Sunok, Juri, Sojin
From these, pick the names of:
1. a young main character from a poor family, who loves a rich boy, Taemin
2. an older woman at the market who sells dumplings
3. the maid of the rich family
4. a hateful over-the-top female villain (think Bellatrix from Harry Potter)
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