I’ve read articles by and about other writers who maintain that their first step in drawing a character is to find the perfect name. I’ve never understood that, beyond the obvious connotations of character type. A romantic hero named Raunchy McStinkface would probably be doomed. My series character, Jonathan Grave, is called that because my original plan for the series was to build titles around the name–Grave Danger, Grave Peril, etc. Okay, I’m not very good with titles. (Hand to God: I was two or three books into the series before I realized, thanks to an inquiry from a fan, that Jonathan and I share the same initials.)
For me, characters develop in my head from the inside out–how they think and feel and react. Names, for the most part, are just labels, something to call them. I’ve taken names from friends, and also from news stories, sometimes attaching one news maker’s first name to someone else’s last name.
In my current WIP, Crimson Phoenix, my first non-Grave book in quite a while, I’m cursed with a ton of walk-on characters. I’ve been going crazy trying to develop names for these folks, until earlier this week, when I wondered if the internet has such a thing as a name generator. Eureka! This site is a name generator. It allows you to choose ethnicity, sex, age, and a host of other factors to spit out a list of names. Or, you can go straight to the Quick Name Generator, which will spit out a random list for you to choose from.
Fair warning: The site can become an obsession if you’re not careful.
So, this got me to thinking, what else is out there? One of my evil writing reflexes is to have characters nod too much. Non-verbal communication is important in a scene, but beyond shrugs, nods making faces, my quiver runs empty pretty quickly. Here’s a site I found specifically to help with body language.
I forget sometimes what a boon the internet can be for writers. I am continually amazed by how there seems always to be an answer to any question you want to ask. Not all of the answers or suggestions are great, but there’s always a route to follow to get to the answer.
So, TKZers, give us a link to your favorite helpful sites, either on craft or just for reaearch.