The problem of naming characters

I submitted a short story to Electric Spec yesterday (keep your fingers crossed for me!) and one thing I had to do to get it ready was re-name all my characters.

I have such trouble picking names. I’ve managed to get past it enough to write first drafts, on the basis that I can pick any name and fix it later. But then at some point I have to pick names for the characters that aren’t silly, obvious or cheesy. That’s where I struggle. I find it really hard to just come up with names, whether they are mainstream, fantasy or science fiction type names.

So what makes it so hard? Partly it’s because I think many of my original choices are derivative. I’m easily influenced by what I’ve been reading lately, especially if it’s Iain M Banks or something. And some times they are just naff sounding. I also tend to pick names that begin with R, G, S and T, and have either one or two syllables. There is definitely a lack of variety.

In the end I do get to change them and with the help of a few random name generators I usually end up with names I like. How do you all pick names for your characters?

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