Ah, names. Sometimes characters come to you with names neatly affixed; other times you have to sweat and curse and cudgel your brains and the dictionary, trying to pin down that elusive Perfect Name.
When I’m in the position of having to come up with a name, the first thing I do is to look at my worldbuilding notes, especially on cultural inspirations and language, for help. The Changeling is set in an alternative medieval Europe, so I went to a baby name website to look at Celtic, Gaelic and Germanic names for my characters. Often I know what sound I want the name to start with, which limits my choices. I like my names to have appropriate (or deliciously ironic) meanings, as well.
Season of Rains includes both Indian and Greek-inspired cultures, so I focused on names that sounded like they might come from those cultures (for instance, a lot of names that ended with -es). For Kai’s book I developed some rudimentary language, and made sure that my names followed the language conventions. So if the language of culture A does not have the ‘l’ sound, I cannot name their purebred queen Lamila. Similarly, if in culture B the -in suffix is feminine, my macho warrior dude cannot be Kevin.
Sometimes, though, you’re in the writing flow and cannot stop to come up with names. So you end up with placeholder names–and they end up sticking. Two brutes-for-hire in SoR are graced with the thuggish names of Thurgor and Ragor. One of the antagonists in Quartz bears the name of a smelly cheese (all hail the Marquis of Rocquefort!). Some day, I really must change his name…
How do you come up with names for your characters?