I knew this had to be my topic, as soon as I saw some of the other posts people are doing on the topic.
Names are a special kind of torment for me. I will fixate on just about any kind of name. I can’t name a minor character, much less a book, without obsessing over the implications and cultural details of whatever name is being considered. And, I’d like to know the character before I name him, so half the time, I just start writing, and figure the name will come later.
And yes, I use “placeholder” names. They all begin with tk (to make them easy to search and replace) and then a description of the character by role. MC. MCF(female). MCM(male.)And they get replaced when they get replaced. I used to put in silly names, but that’s how you wind up with a twelve-year-old named Herkimer, and by golly, those names stick. Herkimer refuses to give up and just be Jason.
Some of my names… particularly for very minor characters… have meanings. I like perfect participles, and I like names that help me keep track of the character’s role. Oh, yes. That’s the prostitute from chapter eight.
I wouldn’t give all the names in my books to flesh-and-blood children. And if someone else does… It’s probably a measure of success, when someone tells you they named their kid after your character, and then demands that you pay to change the name… Isn’t it?