For me, I start with baby naming books and web sites. I look for those names whose meanings have the attributes I'm looking for in my character. Although Mabel or Gertrude are perfectly good names, they don't usually fit the idea of a heroine. Sidekick, yes, but not the main character. That is, not unless there's a very good reason - using the name as a counterpoint to the personality. Like in the song "A Boy Named Sue", giving the main character an unusual or odd name could be something they have to fight against and overcome.
So how do I name a female lead who is a loner, strong and independent, but incredibly lonely. Someone who possibly has a physical handicap she wants to hide? Someone who controls a power that others fear, and yet need? The world is medieval so her name can't be a modernistic one either. She needs a strong name, yet one that has a gentle side.
The hero is a man of principles, but a dark past that he keeps hidden. He sees much and tries to help where he can, but his past haunts him. Will he step up when the need arises and help the woman? Or allow evil to take over, thus sealing his fate - and that of the world - forever? What is my dark hero's name?
The villain is a man who believes he is doing what is best for his land. Yes, the way he goes about it is unprincipled and uncivilized, but to him, it will result in the ultimate good. Unfortunately, his ideals are deluded. He is driven by tragedy in his past and pursued by guilt and vengeance. He needs a strong name, yet one that can be overcome.
I'll let you know what names I come up with for my characters. Or you can give me your suggestions.
Birthdays: Vladimir Nabokov, William Shakespeare
Tips and Teasers: You've been asked to create a character for your favorite TV show. What show is it? What kind of character would you create? Would s/he be a bad guy or a good guy? What would happen?
Thought for the day: "Rejections slips are living proof that I sent my work forth, that I am being read, that I am casting my lot. They help define me to my writing self." – Shelly Lowenkopf