I’ve found a nerdier repository for name ideas than sites like www.behindthename.com.
Character Naming Resource For Nerds
Peer-reviewed research articles. Real people have the coolest, most unpredictable last names that I may never discover while searching name websites.
How I Find Names
I might be writing at my little table (which is perpetually covered in articles from past assignments/research; academic tablecloth??) and stop midsentence.
Me: “I need a name.”
I’ll shuffle through some articles, maybe flip to the references in the back which lists 20+ articles with names. For first names I look for something uncommon for my generation. For surnames? Must be easily pronounceable. Beyond that, anything goes.
SURNAME EXAMPLES: From this week’s articles
Next? I grab the a surname that rings truest with my choice first name and run with it.
There’s something about quickly finding a name that feels like meeting an actual person for the first time (and I don’t stare at real people for days like a weirdo wondering if they really look like a Karen). Or – here we go – it’s like multiple choice questions on a test where you’re supposed to go with your first answer because your first instinct is usually correct. Same thing. Besides, my obsessive overthinking usually yields things that sound obsessively overthought.
(Also, I’m not a fan of my characters busting through 4th walls trying to help me with basics like names. That’s not their job. It’s mine. They have ONE job: to grab my hand and whisper, “Run!”)