Four ways to come up with names

Do you have trouble coming up with fantasy names?  Do others make it look easy while you are struggling?  Here are 4 ways to come up with names.

1)      Steal them from another writer.  Some main characters have really neat and original names, other times it’s the character we see for one page, either way the name is something you wish you had thought of.  Well steal it.  Honestly think of how many Jennifers or Roberts you know?  Not much different is there?  Just be careful that you don’t take a name which is highly popular and use if for your own main character or people might think you are a copy-cat writer.

2)      Take a name you like and change it slightly.  This may sound strange but it gives you a unique name, without having to struggle for one.  In fantasy, this is especially useful since many names are odd sounding to give them the element fantasy writers are looking for.  You could add or delete letters or even change the order of them.

3)      Find a name generation site and play with it until you find something you like.  I have seen some sites which give names for Welsh, Irish, English, Elves, Dwarves, etc.  Some will generate several names at once and others one at a time.  You can always keep a list of these to pull out when needed so you don’t have to keep going back.  This is especially useful if you write offline.

4)      Use names which mean something to describe your character.  JK Rowling did this with many of her Harry Potter characters.  The most obvious was Remus Lupin since lupine means wolfish in Latin.  She had several others which were not as common though.

I have used all four of these techniques and they have made life much easier when a new character pops in my story.  Do you think these will help you?  Do you have other techniques which you use that might help others out?