3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?
I used to go crazy coming up with names for people and places in my stories. Parenthood.com’s baby name generator was on my bookmarks list. I looked up every single name in Fie Eoin until I found just the right one with the right meaning and the right sound and the right country of origin (most of them are celtic). I still have a tendency to look up name meanings (Top Secret Project’s Neona took me quite a while to ferret out), but I do try to let the names just come to me now. Everyone in Phooka Tales was a random name that popped into my head (except Jermaine, he was named after Brett’s named popped into my head because I’m a fan of Flight of the Conchords), and after looking up the meanings of most of them I have to say they were pretty true to the characters.
Last names are different – last names I almost always look up. Holly’s was easy – she’s a “doubting Thomas”, her surname became Thompson. Plus, I really like the sound of Holly Thompson. Actually, I guess I don’t always look up last names because I asked a friend of mine what Brett’s last name should be. I think I asked her what Chloe and Jermaine’s last names should be too. I was probably already writing PT for NaNo at the time so I didn’t have time to look up names. TSP doesn’t have any last names, but everyone has four first names. In fact, I think TSP’s naming system is the most difficult I’ve had to deal with yet, because all four of the first names should be something that fits the character. Luckily I’ve just been going with the flow on that one – Sean and Alicia’s names all just came to me out of the blue, and Neona doesn’t have four first names. She’s the easiest.
As for the warrior names in Fie Eoin, I will occasionally ask people for an animal, plant or mineral and name the extra cast that. Major characters that are warriors had names specially picked by me based on their personalities and fighting styles. Gar, for instance, is a thoughtful, stealthy fighter who only expends as much energy as he must, just like a gar fish (have you ever watched a gar hunt? It’s pretty darn cool).
Which brings me to a question: what should I name my next extra warrior? I need an animal, plant or mineral.