How do you choose character names?
This really varies per story. The most important factor is making sure the names are appropriate for the culture, language, and time period of the story world in which they reside.
Probably half of my stories are set in contemporary time periods within the USA so most names will work. In those cases, I will often use the names of people who’ve helped me out in the writing career thus far, unless of course the character is evil or dies in some horrible way. For Only the Dead Go Free, I chose the two of the three names somewhat randomly
For Only the Dead Go Free, I chose the two of the three names somewhat randomly. I wanted a 1970s, rough feel for the antagonist, and Earl works well. Fiona is really the only innocent in the story, I chose her name simply because it is a beautiful one to me and not the name of anyone I personally know very well. Wendy was a little more deliberate. I wanted a name that might subconsciously resonate with the reader and possibly evoke both a sense of fear and addiction. The name Wendy was not only used for the wife and mother in The Shining but also for the heavily drug-addicted prostitute in Breaking Bad.
Roar is set in 1920s Louisiana, and the main set of characters are in a traveling carnival. A lot of research was done to ensure the names fit with that. There is also a sideshow called The World’s Largest Lion, and his name is, of course, Tiny. The same is done with any story I have that takes place in or has a character from another country or time on the ‘real’ Earth.
In my upcoming short The Snow Bride, the story world is a fantasy one, and the native tongue in this frigid landscape is based on Mongolian, so the names are Mongolian.
Similarly, in my novel series Destiny Reborn, a small group of travelers travels across 5 different continents, getting exposed to 30+ cultures. The group is constantly changing as some of them leave or die as others join. The names of these characters are based on the language spoken by their culture.
Since it is Friday, I am going to nominate another author for Authot Confessions – the very talented and prolific Kari Holloway. I’ve read quite a bit of Kari’s work, and she is another author you really want to follow!