People often ask me how to go about naming their characters, whether in writing, in gaming, or whatever.
My favorite and most effective method of naming a character (other than sudden insight/inspiration, which you can't control) is three easy steps as follows:
1) Write down the type of character.
2) Think of a word that you associate with the character. Basically, a word that defines the character--either their role in the story, or something that is extremely significant to them.
- If it's a passive sort of character, use a noun.
- If it's active, use a verb.
- If it's a particularly striking character (i.e., one particular physical or mental characteristic), use an adjective.
3) Then just start tweaking the word. Reverse orders, replace a few letters, etc.
Here's an example:
1) Fire genasi swordmage
2) Fire (both a noun and a verb, denoting that she is both cautious and thoughtful, and also fierce when needed)
3) Fira, Fier, Fiera . . . Fiera.
And also, of course, you think about who else has that name and what they're like. Fiera, for instance, one of the archdevils of the Nine Hells. Fire. Appropriate, no?
What I like about this technique is that it invests the character (subconsciously) with the concept you're getting across. As an example, Arya, heroine in Ghostwalker, comes from "aria," meaning a lone, beautiful song that rises above the rest. "Greyt" comes, obviously, from "great"--the great hero. Rhyn comes from a combination of "run" and "rhyme," appropriate for an avenger with a bardic past.
Now, of course, there are way, WAY more complex names out there (don't ask where Gyl'theryel came from, or, worse, Ruukthalmuramaxamin). But hopefully, this'll get you started if you get stuck on giving your work of art the perfect label.
P.S. Apparently, when Bob (you know, Bob) writes a novel, he doesn't name any of the characters initially (mostly because he *hates* naming characters), but rather puts in filler names so that he can do a universal find-and-replace later. So Bill the drow fighter, Steve the Uthgardt barbarian, Melanie the high priestess of Lolth, etc., etc.
And sometimes, the story goes, one of them will slip through. Ahem! :D