There's no end
to the things you might know, depending how far beyond Zebra you go! {Dr. Seuss}

Friday, May 7, 2010

5 for Friday: Where to Find Character Names PLUS a Game and Awards!

The obvious place to find character names is probably a baby name book. Well, I certainly don’t use one. Here’s why: 1) It would freak me out, and 2) I already endure enough when-are-you-having-a-baby questions and don’t need a baby book laying around adding fuel to that fire (clichés are okay in blog posts, right?!). So I look elsewhere for character names!
1. Graduation Programs. I keep the programs from high school and college graduations. They’ve provided me with terrific names. Subcategory: Yearbooks are a good place to find names, too, especially if your story is in a specific decade.

2. Phone Book. I actually feel like an idiot for not thinking of this one on my own. Someone else mentioned she finds character names in the phone book, and I did a mental head slap: DUH! But during these days of cell phones and instant online communication, the phone book lay forgotten in my desk. No longer! It’s with my writing stuff now.

3. Stationery Catalogues & Websites. Don’t recycle those stationery catalogues too quickly! The photos of envelopes, address labels, cards, paper, and everything else in the catalogues are personalized with first and last names (and fake addresses if you want a street name idea). Also check out stationery websites! 

4. Film/TV Credits. If you need an unusual or unique name, definitely check out movie or television episode credits. Super interesting names exist in the entertainment industry! You’ll find regular names, too, but a name like Laura isn’t considered “cool” in Hollywood. (Random Trivia: Reese Witherspoon’s real first name is Laura.)

5. Book/CD Acknowledgments. Checking out the acknowledgment pages in novels and the “thank you” sections in CDs yields some great names. It’s not as abundant as the ideas mentioned above, but it’s still been a useful name resource for me.
If you don’t want to bother reading the following game and awards (though I hope you do because I’ve linked fabulous blogs you should definitely check out!), go right to the comments and share how you find your character names! I’d like to get more ideas; there can never be too many places to search for the perfect character name. :)
Now for the fun stuff: a game and awards!
Last Friday, Jemi tagged me to reveal more secrets about myself. Oooh la la! I answer 5 questions 5 times, so here it goes:

Question 1 - Where were you five years ago?
1. In Super Happy Land because I finished freshman year of college with honors and had 4 long months to spend with my wonderful boyfriend. (He’s my husband now!)
2. Living with my amazing parents. (Happy Mother’s Day to the best mommy everrr!!!)
3. Working at Rita’s Water Ice for my 4th year. I don’t care much for water ice anymore.
4. Oooing and ahhhing over my first nephew!
5. Planning my first trip to Disney World with a friend. 
Question 2 - Where would you like to be five years from now?
1. Living in a stone house with an in-ground pool. And since I’m dreaming, owning a couple zebras would be cool!
2. Published. But I probably didn’t need to tell you that, did I?
3. Maybe thinking about babies.
4. Celebrating 7 years of happy marriage! 
5. Vacationing on a tropical island… or Europe... or Prince Edward Island. I’m not picky. :o)
Question 3 - What is (was) on your to do list today?
1. Exercise. (Check.)
2. Morning Pages. (Check.)
3. Write. (Check.)
4. More writing. (After my blogging break!)
5. Laundry at my parents’ and playing with my sister’s kids! (Yay, fun!)
Question 4 - What 5 snacks do you enjoy?
1. Chocolate
2. Clementines
3. Peanut butter & raisins on celery
4. Apples & cheese (or apples & peanut butter)
5. Grapes...actually, any fresh fruit. I love fruit almost as much as chocolate!
Question 5 - What would you do if you were a billionaire?
1. Give millions to my parents and my parents-in-law.
2. Give millions to my siblings and my siblings-in-law.
3. Give millions to retinitis pigmentosa research, cancer research, and to schools lacking basic amenities like up-to-date books.
4. Travel the world.
5. ...and because hubby would insist, invest the rest and live off the interest! 
That was fun! I’m tagging two zigzaggers I’ve “known” since the beginning of my blogging adventure, Roxane Beauclair Salonen and Bluestocking, and two new zigzaggers, Julie Dao and Matthew Rush. I'm looking forward to knowing you better!
I’ve received a bunch of awards the past few weeks and I’m finally getting around to passing them on. Thanks, everyone, for the blog awards; they’re fun to receive! I really appreciate all my followers!!! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy reading your comments so thanks for brightening my days! :) 
I received the A is for Awesome Blogger Award from T.J. Carson and I'm passing it on to:

I received the Blogger Buddy Awards from Saumya and Jennifer Daiker and I'm passing them on to:

I received the Lovely Blog Award from 
Alexandra Crocodile and I'm passing it on to:

I received the Sunshine Blog Award from Hannah aka Palindrome and I'm passing it on to:

I received the Awesomesauce Award from Hannah aka Palindrome and I'm passing it on to: 

I received the Sweet Blog Award from Hannah aka Palindrome and Julie Dao and I'm passing it on to:

I received the Sugar Doll Award from 
Talli Roland and I'm passing it on to:

I received the Superior Scribbler Award from T.J. Carson and I'm passing it on to:
Be sure to check out these fabulous blogs! Have a sunshiney weekend, blog buddies! 

Share with me!
Where/How do you find names for your characters? 

To all the amazing moms (especially you writer moms!) in the blogosphere: Have a fabulous Mother’s Day!!!


Alesa Warcan said...

I like using etymology, foreign languages, dead languages, anagrams, phonetic mistranscriptions, history books, and plain flat out made up names... There are so many ways to come up with names. But often my characters turn up pre- dressed and named. : j

Bluestocking said...

Thanks for the award. I thought your list of places to find names was really clever. I talked about and as sources I use in my last post, but I'll have to remember these in the future... esp. when I don't have my computer handy.

Matthew Rush said...

Hey cool, thanks for the linkage Laura. I especially like your billionaire answers but what is retinitus pigmentosa? I guess I'll have to go look it up now.

Today's guest bloggers are Lisa and Laura Roecker!

Shannon said...

Great list for finding names - thanks for sharing. And I enjoyed reading your's great getting to know you better. :)

Have a great weekend!

Steena Holmes said...

Thanks for the award :)

In my latest WIP - I had my daughters help me choose names. It worked ;)

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Laura, ah, thanks so much! Which one should I put on my blog, since there are two choices? :)

You've had grown fast in the blogging journey, Laura. Great work! This is obviously a sphere where you feel quite comfortable.

I hope to be back later with a longer response. But for now, I wanted to thank you for the prayers.

Blessings on your weekend!


Laura Pauling said...

Thanks for the award! And so, like, when are you going to have kids? (kidding)

I use the names that I wouldn't let my husband name my kids, and I use the names that I wanted to name kids but only had 3 kids. And then random names here and there that just spring to mind. :)

Talli Roland said...

Wow, look at you with all the awards! That's awesome! Congrats.

And thanks so much for mine. :)

I've never thought of looking at film credits or graduation programmes for names. Great ideas!

Lola Sharp said...

It's rare that my character's don't tell me their names, BUT when they don't, I usually use the name database online, for the most popular names during whatever year, in whatever country, my characters would have been born.

Alexandra Crocodile said...

Wow! Look at all those pretty awards! Thanks! *bows humbly*

T. Anne said...

Awww!! I LOVE my sweet blog award! I also love how exercise and writing are at the top of your to-do list! You go girl!!!

Jemi Fraser said...

Thank you! You're a sweetie.

I love your answers to the tag game - I'd be investing too - just like your hubby :)

For names for my Steampunk I looked up Victorian name sites. I've taught a lot of kids over the years and some names just work too :)

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

These are amazing ideas for finding cool names!! I wouldn't have thought of any of them -- not even the phone book. So simple! Thanks for sharing them.

I loved your answers, especially to one of the billionaire questions. My sister has retinitis pigmentosa and there isn't enough research being funded to cure the disease. Bravo to you for choosing to mention that!

Congrats on all your awards!! Thanks so much for mine -- I don't have the Super Scribbler award yet and it means a lot that you thought of me! Thanks, love!!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Laura Marcella said...

Alesa- Thanks for the idea! Lucky your characters show up named- I need to spend time thinking of the perfect one!

Bluestocking- I've used, too, and is another good one.

Matthew- You're welcome! I appreciate you following. :) RP is an eye condition when the peripheral vision goes and most people with it eventually become legally blind. I'd like to raise more awareness about RP! Thanks for asking. :)

Shannon- Thank you! Have a great weekend!

Steena- You're welcome! That's a good idea. In college my roommate helped me name characters for a short story. She told me a bunch of her family's names. That helped a lot!

Roxane- Put them both on your blog!!! You can put them on both your blogs or put a different one on each. They're your awards to do with whatever you please. :) It is Mother's Day weekend afterall!

Laura- Oh, you're a funny one! Lol. That's a great idea to use the names you liked, since our wips are like our babies, too!

Talli- You're welcome! I hope you get some great names from using film credits (or telly episode credits!) and programs now.

Lola- That's a great idea for keeping your characters true to your story's time and setting.

Alexandra- You're very welcome! *throws confetti*

T.Anne- Thank youuu!!! Exercise helps generate ideas or work through problems in my wips. Then I write right after!

Jemi- I know a billion dollars is A LOT of money (I really can't even fathom it) but it would still probably be really easy to spend it all! So investing is smart and sensible. Though it doesn't even matter because I'll never see that kind of money, lol!

Nicole- Not too many people know about RP. Two of my mom's brothers and my mom have it. My mom, though, is a miracle-She changed her spirituality, diet and entire outlook on life and the condition is reversing itself and her vision is back. She still can't drive or see well at night yet, but during the day you wouldn't even know she has RP. It's amazing! I really wish I could do more to raise awareness about it. Your sister is in my prayers! You're welcome for the award. It's well-deserved! Have a happy Mother's Day, Nicole. :)

Charmaine Clancy said...

Thanks for the great ideas for character names. I hate naming them! :-)

Jen said...

Great name ideas!!! I never thought about all of that, but now I know where to look!!

Aww and thank you for my wonderful award!!!

Tara McClendon said...

Congrats on all the awards. I watch film credits for name inspiration, and I've found a few in the geneologies in the Bible. For our first son, we bought a baby name book--wow was it ever overwhelming. We didn't even get through all the A names before we couldn't keep them straight. Anyway, thanks for the other tips for finding names.

Shelley Sly said...

1) Congrats on all these well-deserved awards! Thank you for thinking of me, too!

2) I'm pretty unoriginal, since I use baby name books for many of my character names. But I also get some from attendance lists (I'm a substitute teacher).

3) Re: What PA college did I go to -- Messiah College, not far from where you went. :) I actually considered going to Ship for grad school, but grad school never happened, lol.

T.J. Carson said...

Clementines are delic! And mmhhmm prince edward...yes! haha. Thanks for the blog award! and SURPRISE! I have 2 for you on my page :) BTW, love the "let's name the baby skype" haha, I was cracking up!

Lisa and Laura said...

Congrats on all the awards!!! And now I'm totally craving clementines. YUM.

Laura Marcella said...

Charmaine- You're welcome! I hope this helps you name your characters now! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

Jen- You're welcome! It's most well-deserved!

Tara- Baby name books look overwhelming! I've never actually opened one, though. The Bible's geneologies is a great idea!

Shelley- Attendance lists are a great idea, too. And yes, I know of Messiah college! I really loved Ship, so if you do grad school eventually, it's worth looking at again! :)

T.J.- That cartoon makes me laugh every time I see it! And you know there's gotta be a baby out there named Skype, poor thing! Lol.

LiLa- Thank you! I want clementines now, too!!!

Saumya said...

Thanks so much for the award, Laura! And congrats on all of yours!!!

I sadly get character names from baby name websites. Your suggestions are much more creative! Haha, and it's awesome that you like fruit as much as chocolate. Perhaps I should try to acquire such a healthy love :)

Ee Leen Lee said...

I blogged about character names 2 weeks ago here:

But your post was especially useful, thanks

I also suggest looking at film credits- lots of surnames there.

Cat Woods said...

Wow for awesome awards! They are well-deserved, as your blog is fun and informative. Good luck as you continue your journey.

Now for the names. Once, while journeying the seven hours to my sister's house, I wrote down all the cool and unique street and city names on the road signes. They were perfect for my YA fantasy, and are actually some of my very favorite names I've ever come up with.

In addition, billboards have some fun words you can pull from. Just jot them down and play around when you have time.

I've also culled names from newspapers.

Great post~ cat

Laura Marcella said...

Saumya- You're welcome! I use baby names websites when I want to know a name's meaning. and are great sites. Fruit tastes so sweet it's practically like dessert!

Ee Leen- Thanks for sharing your post! I check out film credits for surnames, too. It's a great resource!

Cat- Thanks! And these are all great ideas. I'll have to remember this whenever I go walking or on a long drive. Thanks for the tips!

Jayne said...

Aw - thank you so much for my award! You have brightened my day - happy Tuesday! :)

B. Miller said...

Wow, thanks so much for the award!! Sorry I didn't see this til now... it's very much appreciated!! :D

Julie Dao said...

Oooh thanks for tagging me, Laura! I've been so spacy in blogland that I didn't even notice. And congratulations on all of your awards, holy zebra!

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Thanks for the award, Laura. :0)

Palindrome said...

Thanks for the award!!

I find my baby names in the New Age Baby Name book and also I work around a ton of names so when I see one that I like, I write it down. :)

Laura Marcella said...

Jayne- Yay, you're very welcome!!!

B.- That's okay! I should've popped on over to your blog and told you earlier but I gave out so many awards I couldn't remember who I told and who I didn't, lol. You're very welcome!

Julie- You're welcome! I think I'm going to start using "holy zebra!" in every day speech, lol!

Kathi- You're welcome! I received the book today and I'm looking forward to reading it! Thanks. :)

Palindrome- You're welcome!!! That's definitely an advantage working around names. The perfect names could be right in front of you!

Keli Gwyn said...

Congratulations on your many blog awards. What a collection. Thanks for sharing one of them with me.

Laura Marcella said...

Keli- Thank you! You're very welcome for the award. It's well-deserved!!!