Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

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redeyesblackpanda
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Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#1 Post by redeyesblackpanda » Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:01 am

So... Anyone have any sort of advice for coming up with character names? I suppose learning Japanese helps?
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#2 Post by Tag- » Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:23 am

Er, only if you're needing Japanese names. Otherwise, knowing Japanese when you're looking for, say, a French name is kind of useless xD''

I usually google lists of names and then pick out ones that I think suit my character, or just any random name. I'm pretty sure you can do this for names of any ethnicity.
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#3 Post by Tsundere Lightning » Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:28 am

Behind The Name.com is a good general resource for this, whether you're looking for Japanese names or those of any other culture. How I forgot to edit that in for this long is beyond me.

I personally like to use meaningful names - not on the level of naming a werewolf Remus Lupin or a chosen of the Egyptian gods Horace Farrow,* but stuff like naming someone Cassandra because everyone ignores her good advice, or a military brat named Victor.

One nice technique is naming a main character something unassuming. James Bond was named because, at the time, it was an utterly common name: same with Harry Potter. See also seductive intelligence agent Modesty Blaise.

Anime tends to be rife with meaningful names, or at least themes. Akane, Nabiki, and Kasumi Tendo are named after different kinds of clouds, for example.

* This is an actual example from the game Scion. And yes, it's pronounced 'Horus Pharaoh.'
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#4 Post by redeyesblackpanda » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:40 am

Wow... that's a nice website! Now I've gotta figure out how to come up with last names, lol.

Edit: I'm stupid, they have those too.
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#5 Post by Rin » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:55 am

Tag- has a point. Unless your game is supposed to be located in Japan (or you like Japanese name :p), but you can always add a foreigner, or two, it doesn't matter. I've seen a lot of project with each character has their own origin.

I often use babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com to search the name by meaning, origin... etc. (I love French/English name the most, perhaps because I'm used to Japanese's? :3). Behindthename is very handy too~

Also, you can think of character's name in two way:
- The name suits character. (Like in Tsundere Lightning's advice, "naming someone Cassandra because everyone ignores her good advice") It shows part of the character's life, or personality, or whatever related thingies.
- The character shapes it's name. Like, when I heard someone whose name is Shizuka, it reminds me of Shizuka Minamoto in... Doraemon lol >_> though it means quiet. Or Jerry spontaneously leads me to the mouse in "Tom Jerry" series *x* It happens when your character makes a strong impression on the readers. So, for this one, simply pick the name that you'd like.

Good luck with naming!

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#6 Post by manga_otaku » Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:46 am

I usually use Serendipity, which generates names for me, unless I feel like making my own names up xD
As well as names it helps with plot settings and gives ideas on lots of other things as well :)
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#7 Post by Weakjounin » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:56 am

LOL my process is probably the worst out of everyone's here.
I sit with 2 or 3 friends, have a picture of the character open.
Then we open our facebook friend lists and scroll through everyone. When we find a name we like, we vote on it and we go through the lists like this. It's great fun and a huge time sink xD

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#8 Post by xSamChan » Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:09 pm

Usually, I'd like to come up with the character first, and then find a name that fits their description.

I don't suppose you need to learn Japanese to use Japanese names, (if your game isn't japan related or some sort of old-school otome game) but you need to know how people would direct each other in Japanese if it is going to be one of those games that use Japanese references.

Since I took some japanese I can help you there ;v;
A majority of Japanese people have one given name, one surname aka family name aka last name. Though, unlike America or wherever else, they do not have a "middle name".

Usually when you're speaking to someone, it all depends on your relationship with them depending on how you'd address them.
So for example, if you weren't as close to someone you'd refer to them using their family name.
It's also unlikely that Japanese people would ever refer to their elders (like a teacher) by using their name at all. Typically, they'd say something like "sensei,"

If you're close to someone, a boy, for example, you'd address him as, (First name here)-Kun.
If you're close to someone, a girl, for example, you'd address her as, (First name here)-Chan.
In school. . lets say your like a freshman and you are familiar with a Junior. . it would only be but polite to address him/her are senpai.

Usually in the Japanese language they use sama or san to show respect, it's equal to the english, "Mr." or "Mrs."

Anyways, enough with that talk.
If you want Japanese girl names:
http://www.20000-names.com/female_japanese_names.htm
If you want Japanese boy names:
http://www.20000-names.com/male_japanese_names.htm

And if you want family names:
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~jpnwgw/Names.html

Have fun ~ ^^

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#9 Post by purple_pockets » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:13 pm

@at Tsundere Lightning: I love the name Cassandra for that very reason. Maybe it could be used in a horror story (I actually thought about using the name "Cassie" in a horror story. She would see dead people, and the dead would somehow know what was going on in the universe. Of course, everyone thought she was nuts. :lol:)

I tend to use a lot of names taken from Greek or Roman mythology because many people know them well and sort of have an idea of what that character is going to be like. For example, Hestia might conjure up images of a good housewife. Calliope might be some sort of super model or musician. Of course, it doesn't always work in all cases, but like a good spice, just a little bit of this combined with a more common name creates something really memorable.
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#10 Post by Cidz » Mon Dec 26, 2011 3:35 pm

http://www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm - random name generator

or maybe this: http://nine.frenchboys.net/

both of those might help out. sometimes i use those when im stuck and need a name lol.

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#11 Post by Joey » Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:20 am

Weakjounin wrote:Then we open our facebook friend lists and scroll through everyone. When we find a name we like, we vote on it and we go through the lists like this. It's great fun and a huge time sink xD
This makes so much sense, I'm going to have to try it out one day xD

I think for Japanese names you have to think about the age of the character carefully. For example in the past it used to be common for girls' names to end with 子/"-ko" but now it's kind of unfashionable and young parents are coming up with names that are more English-sounding. There's even a Japanese site detailing how ridiculous some of the names are getting XD

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#12 Post by kara24601 » Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:26 am

I often look through babynames.com and places like seventhsanctum have some nice name generators....I always try to come up with unique but hopefully not too stupid looking and not too unique names. I'd share a list of names but I wouldn't want other people to use them since I already have characters with those names or I might use those names in the future, ect.

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#13 Post by Lennonhead » Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:39 am

Here are some ways I come up with names.

Pick a name that describes the character! Go through a list of names and find something meaningful. This sounds pretty simple, but it's also somewhat true to life. For example, in Japanese, "Susumu" is a verb that means "to progress". What a suitable name for the former Progressive Rock musician. Susumu Hirasawa! Go through a list of names and pick one with a meaning you like.

Or, forget the meaning, and choose something that SOUNDS typical for a character of that type. Actually this carries importance with every option. When you think of the name "Chase", for example, that name is extremely preppy, so if your character is an upper-crust American, that name would fit quite well. Keep in mind the setting of the story too. An old French woman living in the 1800s wouldn't be named LaDasha.

Next, can you make a reference or joke out of a group of character's names? For example, two friends are named Ben Haight and Jerry Ashbury. Why? Because there's a Ben and Jerry's on the corner of Haight-Ashbury! You can continue that and give Jerry a brother named Tom or something. Obviously, this is mainly for comedic works or minor characters, but it is good to use for serious things with mythological or obscure references, like the aforementioned Cassandra.

I can't stress enough to keep the setting in mind. Go look at lists of baby names for the language that's spoken in the story, and what was popular a few years before it's taking place. Keep social standing and who the name is for in mind. If you decide to give a character an unusual name, if setting permits, address it in some way so the audience doesn't go, "what the heck is up with that dude's name?" For yet another example, say you've got this tough greaser fellow. You'd want to name him something cool, like Danny de Luca. Or, that could be a nickname, and his real name is Daniella Maria de Luca, but if you decide that fact then address it in some way or it will have no worth.

I apologise for rambling.

I never use random names, and I wouldn't suggest you to. Obviously, random names, unless you get lucky, won't have a very good connection to the character.

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#14 Post by Tsundere Lightning » Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:55 am

Lennonhead wrote:Next, can you make a reference or joke out of a group of character's names? For example, two friends are named Ben Haight and Jerry Ashbury. Why? Because there's a Ben and Jerry's on the corner of Haight-Ashbury! You can continue that and give Jerry a brother named Tom or something. Obviously, this is mainly for comedic works or minor characters, but it is good to use for serious things with mythological or obscure references, like the aforementioned Cassandra.
And the injokes are why I want Statler and Waldorf to meet Excel, Hyatt, and Ilpalatzo. They're all named after hotels. This sort of thing is actually very common in anime! Another great example of this - albeit a more serious one - is Roy Fokker from Macross, named after the Fokker brand of airplane manufacturers.
I never use random names, and I wouldn't suggest you to. Obviously, random names, unless you get lucky, won't have a very good connection to the character.
Sometimes you get lucky, though. Joshua, Sara, Anna and Keenan from Bliss Stage* were named more-or-less randomly by Ben Lehman when he made the tabletop game. That said, they respectively mean Gift from God (His father is the last adult on earth), Princess (for the youngest and most innocent pilot), Pure (For someone that's anything but), and Beautiful (For a carefree hedonist eh beds everyone and doesn't afraid of anything). Hell, Anna Lin is specifically Chinese, and her kid was named Archer: by an astonishing coincidence, there happens to be a Chinese god of war named simply "The Archer," Hou Yi.

Nice coincidences CAN happen, but it's usually a much better idea to just pick some damn names that mean something appropriate.

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#15 Post by ebi brain » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:14 am

I usually use one of those baby name sites. Sometimes I will go for nice coincidences, but sometimes also look for the meaning first if I think it's important for the character.

if I can't find any nice names that way, usually I'll go to us.imdb, find a movie that I liked and start going through the names there.
It's great for finding names in different languages, just look up a, for example, Japanese movie and you will have tons of names to pick from. If you cant find a name you like in that movie, just click on a random name and continue to the next movie.
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