I am not one of those writers.
To be honest, I’m kind of lazy when it comes to naming my characters. Don’t get me wrong, I do some research. But we’re talking a minuscule, micro amount of research like looking up what the most popular/common names were in the year I’ve chosen my character to be born. I usually Google the Top 50 names of that year, then pick one that I like the sound of. Then I look up common surnames for whatever area my story takes place in. That’s it. That’s really all there is to naming my characters.
Scrivener has a nifty name generator feature, which I’ve been using more of since I got Scrivener not even a year ago. You can include or exclude whatever belonging to certain heritages or countries.
I understand the process will be different if you’re writing genres such as Sci-fi and Fantasy. As far as when it comes to reading contemporary fiction, however, I’ve never really pondered why an author chose a certain name for their character. If it’s a name that’s obviously, overtly clever or meaningful to the character, I might give a small, “Oh. Ha. I get it” and move on. I’ve just yet to come across a character I remembered solely for their name. Characters are made memorable by being real, flawed people, not because they have a funny or clever name. The only, and I mean the only character I have ever written just to have a stupid name is in Waiting for You. The girlfriend of Adam’s father is only named Suzuki so I could make a reference to the Suzuki method of learning music, which is the method I was taught when I was learning to play violin. But she’s only in one minor scene.
Do you have a method for naming your characters? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!