How I do it:
1)Mentally construct the character by setting up a skeletal story line, add goals, motivations, conflicts, physical features, voice, history, THEN
2) Give 'em a name
This can take a while. More than a few hours, less than a week.
The first time this process didn't work I had a mini panic attack. I'm a few chapters in, working on a scene with the male protagonist when I suddenly realize his name doesn't fit who he is. It just sounds Wrong. His appearance, reactions, his core personality do not gel with the name I dubbed him with. Continuing on with his story cannot happen unless I change his name.
And then Worry set in. Will changing his name make everything I've written about him feel off? It'd be like changing one of my children's names after being their mom for three months!
If before today you haven't given much thought to fictional character names, consider this: would these well-known literary characters have the same impact on us if their First Names were different?
or Last names were different?
- Nurse Kinder/Nurse Ratched
- Willie Pomeroy/Willie Stark
- Sam Cosgrove/Sam Spade
- Nancy Weasley/Nancy Drew
- Harry Goodman/Harry Potter
- Holly Blake/Holly Golightly
Does the name make the person, the person make the name, or is a name and its person simply an association we make between the two?
And to everyone, if you could have a different name, what would it be?