Of course, you think about whether or not the name is appropriate for the time period in which your story is set...don't you? Recently, I ran across some names in the obituary column of my hometown paper (Note: the obituary column is like Facebook for Seniors!) and was surprised to see that the person's age didn't fit the name. Frankly, I never heard of a 'Misty' born in the early 20th century!
Where do you find names for your characters? Besides obituaries, I mean, if you're not a senior citizen like moi. Consider the following sources:
- phone books
- baby name books
- ethnic sites (You don't want to call someone of Polish origin 'O'Hara', do you?)
- society pages (for those "upper echelon names"--remember, names define your character!)
- The Social Security Administration (popular names by birth year--search by year and more)
- Popular names before social security
- Celebrity names (this site covers those and MUCH more--check the left column)
- era (we've already covered that)
- cross gender names (can be confusing)
- pronunciation (you want your reader to feel comfortable with the protagonist)
- sound and image (what do names like 'Summer' and 'April' or 'Jerusha' convey about the character?)
- rhythm (ever hear someone say, 'Boy, that's a mouthful!' ?