Something that amazes me about the Harry Potter books: where did Rowling get all those names? Everything and everyone is named; all the kids, teachers, parents, house elves, familiars, and even muggles.
I have two ways of naming my characters. For my main characters, I need to spend days, even weeks, brainstorming different names, trying them out, searching for the perfect match. This strategy works well, though of course it's time-consuming. For my more minor characters, I frequently just grab a name from somewhere around me. The next door neighbor in my stories is frequently named after my real next door neighbor. The principal after my high school principal. The main characters' friends are often named after my own friends, or children I've taught. This strategy also works well. It's fast and mindless.
However, it's also prone to enormous problems. What if Project Sparkle actually sells? What if people actually read it? It's okay, I suppose, if in the novel the principal is real nice and a real minor character. But what if he's not?
I've known for months that I need to change some of the characters' names in Project Sparkle. But I've had so many other important and time-consuming things to do, like writing the book. So I've just stuck with the names I've had. And worse, these names have become cemented in my head as I've developed my characters. Now it's hard to imagine the principal named anything else.
But I guess getting sued would be even harder. So back to the drawing board.
My friends on the Blueboards have been tremendously helpful this past week as I've struggled with this. One person suggested the website Nymbler, a name generator.
How do you name your characters, especially the minor ones?