Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

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aestate
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#16 Post by aestate » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:52 pm

I also go to baby name sites, but my absolute favourite thing to use is this "fake name generator" (you can set gender, country). It can also help if you're stuck with character profiles, since it also generates things like DOB, occupation, etc.
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#17 Post by wordlesswriter » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:47 pm

As others have said, the ethnicity/origin of names isn't really all that important unless it's in a specific setting. And even then, sometimes you'll have the occasional person who had parents that wanted them to be a special snowflake and gave them a weird-I mean, "exotic"- name.

For all my character naming needs, I like to use websites like Think Baby Names or other websites for naming babies. Because, at one point or another, everyone was a baby. :) Unless they're some sort of android or something.


While I'm on the subject of names, I HAAAAAATE "meaningful names". Just because it's all a bunch of B.S. Unless one of their parents was a prophet/psychic of some sort, and knew exactly what sort of person they would become and role they would play, NO ONE has a name whose meaning is really important. Also, unless their parents had a particularly cheesy sense of humor or had no regard for their child's future, no one names their children using puns. :x

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#18 Post by nyaatrap » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:19 pm

wordlesswriter wrote:While I'm on the subject of names, I HAAAAAATE "meaningful names". Just because it's all a bunch of B.S. Unless one of their parents was a prophet/psychic of some sort, and knew exactly what sort of person they would become and role they would play, NO ONE has a name whose meaning is really important.
Hey, meaning of names is really important in our country. Since we're always conscious of it, it sometimes leads our life.

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#19 Post by Victoria Jennings » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:49 pm

wordlesswriter wrote:While I'm on the subject of names, I HAAAAAATE "meaningful names". Just because it's all a bunch of B.S. Unless one of their parents was a prophet/psychic of some sort, and knew exactly what sort of person they would become and role they would play, NO ONE has a name whose meaning is really important. Also, unless their parents had a particularly cheesy sense of humor or had no regard for their child's future, no one names their children using puns. :x
But... these are games and stories. Not real life. Purposeful symbolism (as opposed to faux symbolism) can really add to a narrative and make it interesting.

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#20 Post by wordlesswriter » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:47 pm

nyaatrap wrote:Hey, meaning of names is really important in our country. Since we're always conscious of it, it sometimes leads our life.
No, I didn't mean it like that. It's more because, just because it is someone's name means one thing, it doesn't automatically make it a fact about them, or a trait they have.

For example, in Twilight:
Bella Swan- A girl who feels like she isn't pretty but everyone thinks she's beautiful and perfect~ The literal meaning is "Beautiful swan".
Edward Cullen-Last name's meaning is literally "handsome lad"; He's the one who EVERYONE THINKS IS HANDSOME.

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#21 Post by Sapphi » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:04 am

wordlesswriter wrote:It's more because, just because it is someone's name means one thing, it doesn't automatically make it a fact about them, or a trait they have.
I'm firmly in the "meaningful names" camp because it's simply more fun for me as a writer and a reader than "Gee, I'll look through this baby names book and just pick out something that sounds cool." ("Bella Swan" is admittedly pretty silly though.)

I can understand the desire for "normal" names because they are unrealistic otherwise, but... as I research writing more and more I'm finding that good fiction does not just "happen", it's engineered. Lots of meticulous thought and re-thought goes into it. Everything is woven together in a very purposeful way. After all that, to ignore a potential "extra layer" and just give your very special characters very regular names... well, to me it feels disappointing and a little empty (and ultimately more forgettable). Every name has a meaning - that's why names exist in the first place. If I'm naming a character, I'm going to use that to my advantage. Foreshadowing, description, irony, all of those things sound better to me as an artist than picking whatever sounds good at random. (Also, picking names simply because you like them can lead to name rosters that sound just as silly as the symbolic ones.)

Maybe I'm just biased because I enjoy the style of literature that does this with names, or maybe it's because I've consumed copious amounts of anime (Where practically every character ever has a meaningful or symbolic name) but I personally get very annoyed at bland names. I think they are acceptable in slice of life, but IMHO they represent wasted potential in more dramatic stories.
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#22 Post by Pyonkotchi » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:11 am

Im just gonna take the time to say, if I named every character just "names I like"
most likely all of my characters would be named Joshua
oh and maybe a lucia thrown in for good measure u3u
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#23 Post by Tsuroika » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:42 am

I'm not sure if this is a good or even practical way of naming characters, but, I basically take words (usually nouns or adjectives) that describe the character I am making a name for, or even words that I like (such as chair or oblivion), and translate some or all of the words into different languages.
I take the words I used and pick letters out of them to form words that sound either phonetic or patterned after a certain language. I usually only use a maximum of three words, since I always use every single letter.
Then I look up the word I made to see if it exists and if it does, whether it has a meaning or not. I change it if the meaning is something ridiculous. Though names opposite to personality are fun.
I don't remember the actual words I used (I think the starting words were suffering, death and pain), but I managed to come up with the name Houru Tsuroika.
Tsuroika doesn't mean anything, but Houru means 'to let go' which fit that character perfectly.
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#24 Post by Akjosch » Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:52 am

wordlesswriter wrote:While I'm on the subject of names, I HAAAAAATE "meaningful names". Just because it's all a bunch of B.S. Unless one of their parents was a prophet/psychic of some sort, and knew exactly what sort of person they would become and role they would play, NO ONE has a name whose meaning is really important. Also, unless their parents had a particularly cheesy sense of humor or had no regard for their child's future, no one names their children using puns. :x
You're making the mistake here of assuming that people keep their name-at-birth for their whole life. This isn't true even today, but especially in a historical context - where a family would consider themselves lucky if more than half of their children reached adulthood - it was quite common to have a child first have a temporary "childhood name" or even remain nameless for up to several years after the birth.

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#25 Post by nyaatrap » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:00 am

Let me talk about what's Japanese thinking about names. Listen only if you're interested, since this is kind of religious -animism matter.

Japanese believes souls, or gods, in any objects subconsciously. Not only animals, but inorganics, even ideals. And a name is considered the one which possess one of the strongest soul. They consciously or unconsciously respect them and never think they're meaningless. It's natural for them to think its soul leads their life. And if names are against their life, they feel something weird. So when you play Japanese games, you'll find those names are always have some meanings. Because That's a "real" world they're seeing in their mind.

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#26 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:32 am

I also heard that the number of strokes in the kanji of names is quite important too.

Picking a good name sounds like a complicated process, but if it's for a game you can always go for something that sounds cool.

I think it's a little funny that I don't think anyone asked which country redeyesblackpanda's characters are meant to be from.
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#27 Post by GratuitousMoonspeak » Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:59 am

I'm kind of surprised that some people have such complicated ways of picking names (well, complicated in that a lot of web-surfing is involved)! Nothing wrong with it, of course, what works is what works.

Personally I just pick out names that I like or that sound interesting. I try not to use "meaningful" names, because at the time I name characters I usually know nothing about them--at that point they're just ideas. They might get a name change later on, but only if I decide that it doesn't really go with the "feel" of the character. I mean, I can't take a really tough Hell's Angel guy seriously if his name is like Timmy or something. And of course, sometimes I choose names that turn out to be weirdly appropriate.

And of course, I try not to pick really antiquated names (like Felicity or Barnaby) for people born in like the 1990s or something (unless I plan to poke fun at it, of course), or if I write about Japanese characters I try not to name them something like 'Sakana' (just... just Google it).

Btw, I find this website to be rather handy when I need to know what a certain Japanese word means. And of course, baby name websites can help you out with any language's names (although some are more reliable than others).
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#28 Post by Xuan » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:04 pm

Just think of a name that sounds good and smooth to speak out. My naming is strictly limited to English and Chinese only, but otherwise I don't think I ever needed a name generator.

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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#29 Post by Ishikatsu » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:07 am

I don't really get the deal with name's meanings. Yeah, sure; it can be cool to have uber symbolic name for your character, but having too much of them in one game makes me roll my eyes, especially if it's a meaning anyone can guess right away.

I mean, it doesn't happen in real life much. Parents pick name they think is cute and go with it. Most of them don't care for meanings and even if they do, it's not very likely for an offspring to turn out after their name. (My name, Czech variation of Katherine, means "pure." Ha! As if :D) I usually just choose something nice-sounding for my characters.
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Re: Advice for Coming Up With Character Names

#30 Post by redeyesblackpanda » Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:58 pm

Noooo! Necroing one of my old stupid threads? How could you do this to me?! OTL
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