Names are fun.
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No, but really now. The great fun in naming your characters is that you can chose a suitable name for a fully-formed adult. In real life, Eugene Schwab may grow up to be an Ultimate Fighter, and Rock Hardshanks may end up an actuary. Although, come to think of it, that's pretty unlikely. There's a certain amount of manifest destiny in a name, I think.
I remember an episode of Airwolf (yeah, you heard me right) - where the main character, Stringfellow Hawke, (*snort*) is talking about how pretty girls always have pretty girl names. Wait. That doesn't sound like ol' Stringy. On second thought, it was probably Riptide. (I get those 80's helicopter-centric action shows mixed up.) Anyway, his point is proven again and again throughout the episode when every gorgeous girl they meet is a Vanessa or a Gabrielle, and every plain Jane is... well, just that. The reason why this sticks in my mind is that one of the beautiful woman they meet is named, you guessed it, "Claudia."
I'm a Claudia, and I love my name. It's quite rare in the U.S., rare enough that it was a bit torturesome to wield it as a child, but well worth it in the end - so thanks Mom and Dad!
We as authors have less responsibility to our characters in naming them, which is deliiiicious. We can call a guy, oh, say, Severus Snape: a horribly cruel appellation for a child, but a fantastic name for a morally ambiguous wizard.
J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter and the aforementioned Snape, is a genius with names, although sometimes she can get a little too literal. This is fine, and even humorous when she's dealing with minor characters like Professor Sprout (Herbology teacher) or Adalbert Waffling (author of "Magical Theory"), but when it comes to a major character like Remus Lupin, the literalness of his name not only defies logic, it's also a spoiler. And speaking of which.... SPOILER ALERT, (but not really if you've ever taken Latin or studied mythology), Remus Lupin is a werewolf. But he wasn't born a werewolf, he was bitten as a child. How bizarre that he was given a name that pretty much translates as "Wolf Child McWolferstien Van Wolfysnout," and THEN LATER was turned into a werewolf! Quelle Coincidence! But I get it, Rowling's being sly, and I forgive her, because she's Queen Awesome, and also came up with the names Cornelius Fudge, Belletrix LeStrange and Neville Longbottom.
someone aged well
So then, here are some of my favorite names. Let's make this a game, shall we? I'll give the name, you provide the book, movie, or T.V. show from whence the character hails. Some of these will be easy peasy. For obvious reasons, I've left out names that are also titles. (Indiana Jones, Austin Powers, Sweeny Todd...)
No interwebs, please. Answer in comments below!
1. Popeye Doyle
2. Travis Bickle
3. Sarafina Pekkala
4. Elinor Dashwood
5. Zaphod Beeblebrox
6. Angus Thermopyle
7. George Bailey
8. Malcom Reynolds
9. Mad Sweeny
10. Salacious B. Crumb
11. Atticus Finch
12. Corky St. Clair
13. Raleigh St. Clair
14. Jerry Lundegaard
15. Inigo Montoya
16. Holly Golightly
17. Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps (pronounced "Fungy Fipps")
18. Brian Crookshanks
19. Archie Leach (this is a famous person's real name and a character name)
20. Charlotte Haze
If you want to guess without reading other people's guesses, post below before you read others' comments!
And what are your favorite character names?