I hate making up names.

Scrabble tilesI really do.  Occasionally one will come to me, such as Camaro Espinoza (link), but that’s generally because my mind is wandering around and I start thinking things like, “You know, Shelby and Camaro both sound like girls’ names, even though they’re the names of muscle cars.”  It’s not because I have some specific use for them.  For the most part the process works like this: I’m outlining something, and I get to the point where I need a name.  Unless something pops into my head immediately, I use a random generator (link) and get what I need.  If a good name doesn’t appear in the first list, I just keep clicking until the generator either comes up with a combination I like, or I see a given name and a surname that go well together.  Name goes in the outline, and then I move on.

Similarly, if I’m writing the day’s pages, and I can’t think of a name to go into a slot, that character becomes XX until such time as I go back and fill it in.  I also tend to drop XX into places where I want to insert a specific piece of research, but don’t want to waste time tracking down at the moment.  Flow is important if you want to write as quickly as I do (link), and there’s simply no time for futzing around trying to figure out where I saw the name of some German dinner dish, or whatever.  There’s always an opportunity later on to find what I need, or name whatever or whomever I need to name.

I’m not saying this is a good technique for you.  It may not be.  I know some writers who can’t work on a piece of fiction unless they’ve created an extensive folio on their characters, specifying them down to the smallest detail.  To be frank, I don’t have the energy for that kind of thing.  As I have said before, people are very much like other people, no matter who they are or where they come from.  What’s important is what makes a character different from the norm, not the boring stuff which could apply to anyone.