Yes, I know; it's hardly a new question. But with all the characters I've created, I seem to go one of two ways with names: either I know them right away, or I struggle to come up with one that fits. So I thought it would be fun to talk about character names this week.
Let's start with the obvious: Shiloh means 'chosen one', which was a meaningful name back in Skyborne, less so in The Accidental Warlock, and not at all in The Book of Lost Runes. I did consider changing her name because of the meaning, because I've talked here before about how much I don't like the concept of the chosen one, but I also just plain like the name. I don't know what Alexi's name actually means, but I chose it because when I first wrote her (back in 2002), I worked with someone named Alexis and someone named Lexi, and decided to split the difference for someone who was supposed to be a bit part character.
I had no idea what I was getting into back then.
As for Shiloh's sister Bethany, there's no greater meaning there; I just needed something that sounded formal and humorless. Bethany's sarcastic to a point, but she never smiles. She's also a lot of fun to write.
Two other significant characters in BoLR are the Figaro brothers, Edwin and Gerald. Their names are simply an extended reference to Final Fantasy VI. Edgar Figaro is a king from that game, the dashing sort who's suited to life on an airship, and he goes by the name Gerad at one point, hence the brothers' names. I was going to name Gerald 'Samson', for Edgar's brother Sabin, but didn't want to have two characters' names start with the same letter, and Gerald's really not a fighter of any sort. I went with them both because of the importance of airships in BoLR, and because I wanted a good last name for a rich family. Once I decided that 'Figaro' would work, the rest just fell into place.
For the crazy dream book, only two characters' names have any significance, and I'm not telling. One is a spoiler, the other is something no one but me will get unless I get a whole lot of books published.
The next book I'm hoping to write is something I've been plotting for a while, and I generally describe it as "The Amazing Race" meets "Guardians of the Galaxy". The two humans in that are Chris and Phoenix; Chris because I needed something ordinary and Chris Pratt starred in GotG, and Phoenix because of reasons I can't say here. The others are Durgard, a biometallic dwarf-like being with four arms; Zin, the pilot, whom I decided today needs to be replaced with something small and fuzzy and lovable; CAL-KX-0314, a wargolem who will likely have a nickname for the rest of the crew to call her; and Sarai, who's only humanoid from the waist up. The ship is called the Starwind, from an anime that was a major inspiration on this story. Bonus points for whomever can name the anime. No fair using Google. :P
As for my other significant plot-in-progress, the one about dragons and all that, I can't really say anything about what the names actually mean. But I can say I've had more fun naming these people than anyone else in a long time. Without giving too much away, some of the current cast names include: Threnody Starhands, Rael Slitherscale, Zoila Cronin, Desdemona Skullwalker, Kya Cryoblade the Pure, Thresh Palewing, The Mimir, Haze Discord, Byron Stormhammer, and Tara Bulkhead the Immovable.
I really need to make this plot work, because damn, this one's going to be fun.
So! Let's hear some names from the rest of y'all. Do you actively give your characters names, or do the names show up in your head along with the characters themselves? Do you worry about name meanings, or does that not matter? And what's the worst, best, and/or oddest name you've ever used for a character?