Naming Characters - what's your method.

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  • #16
    Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

    Spam emails, classic names of filmmakers(mixed up), election signs on the road, names of roadways/subdivisions, & surnames of existing movie characters(i.e.-Mortimer, Sands, etc.)

    Naming characters doesn't take me long. For instance, I usually start out with: The Thief or The Doctor, etc. until the character's name just falls out of my mouth.
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    • #17
      Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

      All I know is that it's better to hear 'Verbal' Kint tell Agent Kujan about Keyser Soze than to hear Jim Collins tell Agent Ross about Frank Reynolds.
      I second that but Christopher McQuarrie had some balls: Kobayashi, Kujan, Keyser Soze, Keaton, Kovash. (I'd include "Verbal" Kint but he's referred to as Verbal for the most part.) What I think allowed McQuarrie to pull it off was the uniqueness of the names. I'm sure you can tell apart a Kobayashi, from a Kujan, from Keaton, and Keyser Soze. Much harder if he had "Kevin," "Karl," and "Kenny."

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      • #18
        Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

        Today's interesting spam email name:

        Jamal Maxim.

        I swear these spam people are great at names.
        Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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        • #19
          Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

          http://www.wordplayer.com/columns/wp...-dropping.html

          The best column on naming characters.

          Much like Adam, I usually do a generic (Lawyer, Baker, Aryan), until I find the right name. I don't really like naming characters "cool" names, just because they're cool. I prefer to find something that's applicable to the character.

          I have a young girl, in a script, that's the daughter of a famous actress, I named her Alabama. It seemed like the kind of name a famous actress would give to her daughter. Because it's a somewhat horror themed script, I gave them the last name of Strode.

          In another script, about skinheads, I gave the main character the name of Bryan Verick. Bryan is one letter off from Aryan, and Verick is the last name of a Nazi sympathizer; Verick felt like a strong, aggressive name.

          In another script, the theme was about the existence of hope. The main character is Indian, so I gave her the name "Asha" which means hope.

          In another script, I had a conspiracy theorist named Earl Sutton (similar to the name of a geeky guy from my high school), he was a writer who wrote under the pen name of Fox Samuels. Fox, because he was crazy like a... and, because I saw him as a Mulder-type. Probably a little too on the nose, but it seems to work.

          Picking names that work for the character is, in my opinion, a very important process. Picking them at random (from spam, or whatever) because they're "cool," doesn't really work for me.
          "Boobsie is Tassle. Exotic dancer, exotic private investigator. Icy Stoli cranberry gives her the superhuman ability to project her voice to deadly decibel levels." -- StrayGatsby

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          • #20
            Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

            don't really like naming characters "cool" names, just because they're cool. I prefer to find something that's applicable to the character.
            I don't like cool names either. Thinking of cool names automatically shuts down my flow of ideas. Then it becomes less about who my character is, and more about how to fit the character into this 'cool' name. All of the characters I write aren't cool, so the cool name usually does not fit.


            I've coded first name-first inital before though. The first letter in all the characters' first name, spelled out an important clue as to who the antagonist was. Pretty amateur gimmick by me, but I figured, 'What the hell.'

            That's about as in-depth with names as I've gotten.

            I've got a weird theory on using Producer's surnames for characters, but I've been too skeptical about it to actually try it.
            Adam Isaac
            Member
            Last edited by Adam Isaac; 10-18-2006, 11:18 AM.
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            • #21
              Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

              what's wrong with just saying:

              "Guy #1"

              "Spoiled Brat"

              &/or "Our Hero"?

              ive used all three w lots of success.

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              • #22
                Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

                I cross-pollinate the first and last names of friends.

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                • #23
                  Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

                  One of the best names ever, from Joyce Carol Oates "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?":

                  Arnold Friend.

                  Drop the R's.

                  Made into the movie Smooth Talk, where the character is played by the underrated Treat Williams.

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                  • #24
                    Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

                    Names are a weird thing. Sometimes you meet people and they just fit their name. Others you find out their name and you go "WTH?"

                    Writing character names is sometimes the same way.
                    You can just sense when the name is right for that character.

                    I tend to go for names that have a rythem to them.
                    But I NEVER give my characters middle names.
                    What's the point? It's not like I write them out anywhere in the script.
                    Except once. In that instance the name told us that this man was born high class but he had become a bartender in this god-forsaken Aussi town.
                    It's something I prefered to imply rather then write out.

                    Same script I needed my protag to have a short name, something easy to shout. She's lost in the outback see and I didn't want the rescuers running around hollering "Martingale Abercombe". So, I named her Kate. Kate Walker. About a week later I read the Wordplay article and started cheering. See, Kate ends up walking around the outback for like a week so like, her name was forshadowing.
                    GO ME!


                    I got the antag's name, Roan Bock, from one of the super nice guys I met in Oz. It has a very unique sound to it, kind of harsh.

                    While I was working on a fantasy/adventure script I needed a name for my protag. She's the last of an ancient druid clan, the keeper of a sacred stone, and a thief.
                    I racked my brain trying to think of a name for her. Nothing fit. Then one day a new girl came in to my daughter's karate class. Her name was Arden. BINGO!!! And instantly too I had a great scene where the supporting protag, Seth, a very arrogant elf/prince type, learns her name and finally accepts her.

                    I can't write a single page if I don't know every character's name.
                    Are you going to write "Trust me" in the query?"
                    by BellaBella

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                    • #25
                      Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

                      Just as an aside, back in the 1990's when I first started writing, I combined two friends' names for a character and got Jack Bauer.

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                      • #26
                        Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

                        Are you saying you created 24? Or just a remarkable coincidence I think?

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                        • #27
                          Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

                          Originally posted by theradicalone View Post
                          Are you saying you created 24? Or just a remarkable coincidence I think?

                          LOL. File under 'coincidence.' Remarkable? Not terribly.

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                          • #28
                            Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

                            I generally start with a character's surname and work from there. For the surname, I just go to the telephone book. On any page you can find a remarkable variety of surnames, ethnically speaking. For the first name, I just pick one that seems to fit the surname without sounding to clunky.

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                            • #29
                              Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

                              I try to refrain from giving two or more characters names that begin with the same letter for no reason other than it makes it easier when typing in Final Draft.

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                              • #30
                                Re: Naming Characters - what's your method.

                                Sometimes I'll pick a random letter of the alphabet and grow a name from it. Today's letter is R. Rick. Ritchie. Ronnie. Raymond. Ricco. Rita. Rosanna. Rapunzel.

                                Sometimes I'll wait and watch credits roll up the screen after a film or TV show and swap first names and surnames around till I get good-sounding matches, which I save for a rainy day. (Avoiding obvious ones like George Pitt, Brad Clooney, Julie Zeta-Jones, natch.)

                                Oddly enough I don't use MM2000's onboard character name lists, which look quite extensive. Tried it once or twice, but turns out I think faster.

                                -Derek
                                My Web Page - sci-fi, fantasy, horror, cyborgs, AIs, dragons, vampyres.
                                I'm just having a crazy moment. Once I get home and drink myself to sleep I'll be fine.

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