Someone was telling me recently about a writer who gets astrological charts done for all their characters and picks their names on the basis of that. So they know what year and date their character is born but not what their name is? Huh. Whatever works, I guess.
Me, I just grab the first one that comes to mind. So far this method has worked fine. Reason got her name instantly. It just made sense. Jay-Tee I picked cause it sounded American. I mean who other than Americans call people by their initials? And Tom, well, c’mon, it’s not exactly the world’s most unusual name, is it?
Surnames are marginally trickier. If I can’t think of one I’ll look at my bookshelf and pick whichever surname fits. Sometimes I’ll look through newspapers online and grab ’em that way. I’m dead against having to get out of my chair to find names. (Reason’s family name was stolen from Rita Hayworth.)
I reckon people spend way too much time angsting about names (check out Scott’s latest book for lots of bandname angst). Nine times out of ten whatever name you randomly pick will end up working. This applies to babies, boats and pets as well as characters.
How many times have you thought a band name sounded really stupid? But the more you hear it, the more you get used to it, and the more natural it sounds. Scott always gives the example of the Beatles, which is a pretty dumb name when you think about it. Beetles spelt Beat-les as in musical beat. That’s so cutesie it winds up being completely lame. Or it would except that we’ve all heard it so many times the lameness is now invisible.
So it is with characters’ names. The only important rule (which is frequently ignored) is that if you’re writing a book with lots of names that aren’t going to be familiar to your readers make sure they begin with different letters. Cause you just know that readers are going to think of them as J unpronouncable, K likewise, L even worse and X are-you-insane. If they all begin with J—Jaquanatsuaa, Jatarganta, Juypghert and Jioplikaz, for example—your readers are not only going to be confused, they’ll want to kill you.
How do youse lot pick names for your characters? Or are you lot all as lazy as I am?