We are not defined by our names, but they are how we’re identified by others. Your first name is what you’re called and foremost recognized by, and your last name marks you as part of your family.
My name-picking process for characters when writing isn’t particularly structured. The last decision I make when creating characters is to name them, so they are usually semi-formed individuals and therefore easier to name.
I begin by stalking baby-name websites to create a list of names that seem to fit the character. At this point, I check the origin of all names I’m considering to make sure they fit both the time period of the story and the character’s ethnicity. For example, I wouldn’t name a girl living in London in the 18th century Saoirse, as that’s an Irish name that rose to popularity in the 1920s.
After slimming down the list based on these criteria, I usually have a name picked. If not, I examine the meanings of each name to see if any resonate with the character, and choose the name that stands out to me the most. The convenient thing about writing is that one can change anything at any time, and that includes names; one can always pick a random filler name and change it later.
As a final check, I use the website howmanyofme.com to check the name’s popularity, and then enter it into Google to make sure I haven’t accidentally stumbled upon the name of a well-known person.
The main character of my in-progress novel is named Cassidy Devereaux. I chose the name Cassidy simply because I felt that it ‘fit’ her aesthetically, and suited the modern time period in which the story takes place. Her last name, Devereaux, is of French origin, and this ties into the plot of the novel.
If you ask different writers how they come up with character names, they will all have different answers. I hope you enjoyed this insight into my process!
Located on 100 beautiful acres in Central New Jersey, Notre Dame High School, founded in 1957, is a college preparatory school for grades 9 - 12, preparing young men and women for lives of purpose, built upon a foundation of Catholic faith, with a commitment to academics, co-curricular activities and service to others.