I’ve mentioned my problems with names before, regarding the main character in Don’t Stop Beleivin’. I resolved that issue, but it was a pain to discover it when I did. I decided that I wouldn’t wait that long to check character names again.
I’m only a chapter or so into The Fire Inside, and I’m still developing characters, so I figured it was time to start checking names. I had already realized that I had three main female characters whose names began with “M,” so I’ve fixed that. Margaret became Gloria, and I think she’ll be okay there.
I had named my murder victim Tony Baron, because that’s what popped into my head. He seemed like a Tony, and I may have been eating pizza at the time. Then I Googled “Tony Baron” and realized the issue I might have. I suspected the real Tony Baron wouldn’t appreciate being depicted as a philanderer, even if I had the “standard fiction disclaimer.”
Then I Googled one girl’s boyfriend. Turns out there are two NFL players with the same name. Great.
I’ve got several name helps bookmarked, including the Fake Name Generator and this great piece from Elizabeth Sims at Writer’s Digest. Appellation Mountain has an interesting section called “Name Stories,” where parents talk about why they chose the name they did.
I’ve already got a named cast of fourteen, and still need at least half a dozen more. Some can come from Fake Name Generator without much trouble, since they’ll only be around for a page or two – what gamers call NPCs, or Non-Player Characters. I’ll still Google them though. But there’s plenty of work still to do with the rest of them.
What do you do for name research and tracking? Got any favorite sites? Any helpful routines to develop your characters’ names or histories?