It has come to my mind that, as a writer, I'm supposed to post "how-to's" on my blog. I gave that up long ago once I realized that nobody gave a rat's ass.
Yesterday at the LSFW meeting, the speakers were commenting that writers should always post how- to information. I consider that giving away talent for free. I think I've already done that, but since I've been blogging here and on LiveJournal for years, maybe there are new people out there who never read my good stuff. And let's not talk about the other website I had with all the notes about writing I put on there. Somebody was supposed to transfer all that stuff onto this, but it never happened.
So, I'm gonna start off slowly.
I'm gonna divulge what I do to find cool names for characters.
I look at the credits from all the PBS shows first...make mental notes on cool first names and last names. I try very hard not to use ethnic names for characters as I do not want to possibly alienate readers who find they cannot pronounce character names because there are too many vowels or consonants. Look, I know that puts me off...those real Irish names that no one could pronounce but someone versed in Erse...drive me nuts. How can Aislinn be Ashlyn? Darragh be just Darra? Why the extra letters? And then, whoa! A Polish surname with no vowels whatsoever is impossible to figure out without a hunk of kielbasa in one hand and a chaser of vodka in the other. If even then.
So, after plumbing the wonders of BBC, my next step, if I haven't come up with anything yet, is to read the obituaries online. Located in those nuggets of sadness are some really cool names. You take one from one place, another from another, you're set.
The real problem with a name is that it has to match the character. Women's names can be airy fairy and you don't want to use that for a strong, 21st century female heroine. Men...very sensitive here as you don't want a repeat of "A Boy Named Sue" any time. Certain names are very masculine, others are new and made up (see football players' lineups) and some aren't very heroic. Sometimes the nicknames are cooler than the real names, but sometime or other, you have to explain the guy's real name in the story and why he's called CAM and not Camerill. Yes, it can be that oddball.
Name matching. A dark haired hero or heroine shouldn't have a light haired name.
You can always do initials, but once again, somewhere in the story, you have to use the real name or else people like me will be wondering throughout the read what they stand for.
Women...giving them masculine names is odd. But then, the old saw "my father wanted a boy" is used all too frequently.
I'm big on names...I love searching for the exact right name for a character, even before I write the story. Look at my stuff and see how I employ my naming methods. http://amazon.com/author/irenepeterson