Without a doubt, the thing I hate most about writing is coming up with names for characters. I’m terrible at it. Not codenames- for the superhero stuff, etc., that’s easy. I see a word and go “oh that’d be a cool villain name”; no I’m talking about real every day name-names.
There’s a whole bunch of schools on this (not real schools but schools of philosophy- writing philosophy) on how to come up with names- I even have a book called the Character-Naming Sourcebook that goes into each of those different ideas and provides a great list of names and their meanings. It’s author, Sherilyn Kenyon, is a fan of that kind of stuff. Lucky her.
I say that because damn near every character will have a name when you write. Sometimes you can get away with a single name (for throwaway one appearance characters or for truly bad-ass folks- I’m looking at you, Hawk) or a descriptor of the character (example, Robin Hood’s Little John) but for most of the folks that populate your fictional world; they’re going to have a first and last name. Jerks.
Sometimes I find a name that I really like and run with it (example Steven Kincaid) other times I find a neat looking name of a real person and change it- which is where I got the name of the Armenetti crime family that controls the Mob in Legacy. Often I think about who the character is and try to find a name that I think suits them as a result. Some names just bring to mind certain characteristics for whatever reasons, and I try to incorporate that.
One thing I’ve started doing (it was always the plan in some parts but not as prevalent as it’s becoming) is naming after friends or family members. According to that book I mentioned, it’s called Tuckerisms, after science fiction, Bob Tucker. I’ve always enjoyed small inside jokes/nods to things and, what I’ve also taken to using it in LEGACY is as a way of remembering/honoring loved ones that are no longer around.
LEGACY especially seemed an appropriate place to do it- that way they still live on in some form- their name and some of the traits that I associated with them. Their legacy lives on in a book called just that. Pretty meta of me, eh? But really it comes down to it being the only way I really know how to honor those that matter/are close to me- with my writing.
There’s a character who you’ll first see in LEGACY #8, that is based off of my grandfather, who passed away some years ago, and in fact whose birthday would be tomorrow, the 17th. I have a space station named after my good buddy, Charlie McElvy and a publishing company named after my good friend and editor, Christine Steendam, Steendam Press.
Even with all that though, I still find names to be the trickiest part of writing. Hopefully one day I’ll get the hang of it.