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December 30, 2012


Replies: 42

How to Name a Character?

Alkylogic Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
A friend and I recently wrote a play for our school's drama club and, throughout the entire process, one of our advisers would constantly harp on me for not including more symbolism with the character's names. He claimed that a good character's name intentionally said something about them.

In the end, the character's names ended up being Polly Prosper, Sam Rodgers, Charlotte Letter, Tom Smith, Dick Jones, and Sable Blue. Why? Because, with the exception of Miss Letter (and I will always curse that man for his obsession with symbolism), I quite simply liked those names.

Sometimes, I will choose a name and then try to create a character who gives off the same sort of vibe. Lacy Devereaux, for example, was a very feminine hostess who wanted nothing more to find a steady beau, even though men often took advantage of her naive and sweet demeanor.

How do you name a character? Do you go the symbolism route, pick just a name you like, or go about it in some other way entirely?

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Devious Comments

Mouselemur Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
When I was a whole lot younger, I found this book of my parents, how to name a baby. When I was in search for a name for a character, I would search the contents for the meaning of a name, thinking I could mold the character to it's name.
It doesn't really work that way.
These days, I tend to create the personality first, than go in search of a name. It has to fit, give off a vibe that it's right. Friendly girl, a friendly sounding name; saucy woman, saucy name; a tough guy, a tough name.
That's not exactly symbolism, because you're still the one choosing them. What you think fits with this exact character.
waiting-for-wings Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
personally i just pick names that i like. Sometimes i go out of my way to make sure it fits with the character or has symbolism but other times its just because i take a fancy to the name :)
TristanCody Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Student Writer
Your adviser advised wrong. Simple as that.

Character names do not need to be names that have symbolism. Hell, they don't even need to be great names. If the writer likes them, use them.
Fallingstarz5 Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Student General Artist
I dream it up, usually. I take names I love, and blend sounds together. Makes a beautiful name that makes people think, "That's creative and fits her personality!"

For example, I took "Cici" and "Belle" and made "Cielle" which sounds elegant.
The-Demon-Sebastian Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Student General Artist
I mostly write fantasy, and so name generators can be a life saver. Normally I try to stick with names to fit the race and personality. For example, if I were to have an orc warrior, who had more brawn than brain, I'd name him something rough and tough sounding, like Kurtek, Krunk, Glurbash, etc. But if I had a human aristocrat with a knack for getting himself into bad situations, and talking himself out, I'd name him something more flowing and fancy sounding, like Cacius Valius. As far as symbolism goes, I personally try to stay away from it, just because I don't find it realistic. My name, for example, means Pearl and Fire, though nothing I've done, or ever plan on doing relates to that in the least. I've only used symbolism a handful of times, and I never really stick to those characters, because the name could sound cheesy, or it just doesn't fit that character. I personally tend to stick more to the sound of the name, not the meaning.
Rayaroja Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I go for symbolism and use the names of stars which are mostly in latin and arabic, others I try to find names that go with their appearance or because they are clever (one of my characters can manipulate gravity so I call him "Newton")

I recently discovered how useful a name generator can be.
Peribyss Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I often use symbolism when naming my characters. I'll often name them after someone or something. My username, which is also the name of one of my protagonists, is a combination of two Greek words: "peripateo" which means to walk, and "abyss-" which is the root form of "abussos."
AircatSkylion Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I find that names are quite easy as they come as part of the character. I'm terrible at surnames, though, so online lists really help me with those.
SilverTidalWave Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013  Student Writer
I usually try to find a name that suits that character's personality or something that suits they way she looks, acts, where she lives, what age it's set, etc. When I'm naming a character I usually spend a lot of time on baby name sites. ^^
neomerlin Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Student Writer
Carl's guide to naming characters:
1. Have you decided on a name? Yes: Well done. No: Go to step 2.
2: Go to a babynames website the sorts names by gender and first letter.
3: Filter by the gender of your character (unless you specifically want the opposite gender name. See: Scrubs)
4: Pick a letter that you happen to think sounds good, today.
5: Pick a name you like. Is that name likely to be given to your character, given culture, setting etc? Yes: Go to step 7. No: Go to step 6.
6: Does that matter? Yes: Go to step 5. No: Go to step 7.
7: Congratulations, you have named your character. Repeat for other characters or move on to actual writing.
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