For myself, there is nothing quite so agonizing as trying to name my characters. I think this is partly due to my conviction that I must give each of them a name which will illuminate some particular aspect of their personality. Whenever I re-read the Harry Potter books, I'm struck by how good Rowling was at this.
I love reading about how other writers do things, especially things I find difficult. This morning I came across a post in which Michael J. Sullivan shares how he creates name.
I collect names.Read the rest of Michael Sullivan's enlightening post here: Names
Much like a butterfly hunter, or perhaps more accurately, a bird watcher—whenever I spot a name I like, I pin it into a list I keep. Street signs are a great source of fun names. There are three streets near me called, Niblick, Mashie, and Follin. I just couldn’t resist thinking how these just sound like goblin names. Turns out they are golf terms—old names for clubs, I believe.
I also own a very old encyclopedia of proper names, which long ago I went through A-Z looking for any names I didn’t recognize that I thought were cool. This is how I came across Dahlgren, and Persepolis, which I changed to Percepliquis, because I thought it sounded better. I did this decades ago and forgot about it. Now when I see a name of something from my series in the real world I think—wow, someone named a city after my novels! At this point I’ve lost track what words I made up, which I modified and which I stole, but I keep a list—three lists actually, and they are: Male Names, Female Names, Names of Places and Things. This is where I dump all my gathered words. Then as I am writing and a character is spontaneously made, as sometimes happens, I just run down the list until I find a name that suits the character.
How do I do that?
Ah, now this is a trickier question ...
"Michael J. Sullivan On The Dark Art Of Naming," copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward.