Another good question from the folks at Fangs, Fur & Fey:
I'm really interested in how the rest of you name your characters. Do you labor over the character's personality and go from there? Or does a name spring to mind and then you build the character around it?
I do it both ways, actually. I've had characters come to me with names already attached to them. But more often than not, I have a character who is nebulously forming in my head UNTIL I find the perfect name -- at which point they then snap into focus.
I have used all sorts of methods to find names for my characters, too. I have several baby name books that I've collected, my favorites (and the most useful) being the ones that divide by country/ethnic group. I've also used the St. Paul/Minnepolis phone book for surnames -- though I do have one book that lists British surnames.
Names are VERY important to me. Until a character has the right name, I'm not satified with them. I have been known to change a character's name several times until I get it right. Although I rarely change the main/p.o.v. character's name once I've settled on it. Side characters might go through constant change, however.
I sometimes name characters in light of what their name actually means, but I tend to be much more intutitive than that. If it feels right, sounds right, then it fits.
How about you?