A very big part of a new WIP is naming characters. The initial Urban Fantasy I was going to write was easy, because I already had main characters, but since I went off to another idea, I needed new characters. So the brainstorm started. And along with that, thoughts about names.
Names are of course very important. There are issues of certain facts and realism. You can't have a modern young woman named Edna without some sort of explanation. No offence to any Edna out there, but I only know or have heard of Ednas who belong firmly in my grandmother's generation. So if your 20 year-old is named Edna, you bet there is some reason for it. Or I think there should be.
But other than that, we do have a lot of freedom with modern characters. In the world today, names are no longer restricted to one culture or one geographical location. Baby names range from weird to wonderful, and that could be used for characters. So realism I can manage. But for me, names are really really important. They have to resonate with me perfectly for that specific character.
Some characters come with a full name. Other come with a first name and then I have to fumble around for a surname. Then there is the issue of bigger picture. Sometimes, I find names for hero and heroine that I love, but they end up sounding too similar or several supporting characters end up with names that begin with same letters or end in same sounds. Then I have to change some. I have been known to spend days trolling through baby names websites for inspiration if the right name doesn't strike.
I prefer to have final names as early in the process as possible, because names are very much part of a character's identity, and I like to start thinking of them with their right name immediately. I am sometimes less fussy with really minor characters, but all main characters and important supporting characters do get a lot of attention before I name them. Though I do love the ones who tell me what their names are from the start.
What about you? How do you name your characters? How fussy are you?