May is short story month.
I think I've mentioned a few times my tendency to use square brackets to keep up the pace while I'm writing. Nothing ends up square bracketed more than character names.
I pretty much oscillate between two thoughts in the character name department. On one hand, I like to pop in the names of friends - and generally make the character nothing like them in the slightest. On the other hand, I also like to play with name meanings. I've done that since my first days playing various RPGs, when I scared the ever-loving crap out of my parents when my mother found my "10,001 Names For Baby" book in my backpack.
Ah, good memories.
In "Heart," I named the narrator Aiden, which means fire, and his boyfriend Jeremiah, which is the name of the fellow who wrote the book of Lamentations - sort of a half-joke about the Big Book of Boyfriend Things to Say and the overall tone of the story.
In "Cakewalk" I used Anna, Ricky, and Stephanie - all my coworkers at the time - but Neil and Charles were names basically meaning - together - "the champions of every man." A bit haughty, to be sure, but the book was a charity work aimed at fighting Prop 8. I wanted them to be "everymen."
In "Three" I stuck with the meanings angle. Anders, my incubus, means strong and manly; Luc, my vampire, means light, which makes sense to me with his backstory, but doesn't come into play in the first three stories; Curtis - who also has the surname Baird - is my wizard, whose names taken together spell out a polite weaver of tales. He speaks words so true and real the world changes to accommodate.
In "Aiming to Please" I chose Paul - which means small - to be my slim and trim voice of the tale, and couldn't resist Yuri for a Russian knife thrower - which means worker of the earth. He's a carnie, get it? But the circus itself - Harris and Sons Family Circus - was a tip of the hat to Mark G. Harris, a fellow FOOL author.
In "Keeping the Faith" the priests were named after another co-worker and Famous Author Rob Byrnes, respectively. I swapped out Byrnes for Bryce when I realized he was going to be in the same collection. Russ Maxwell - Rusty - thrown together was a punny comment on what happened to him. And Grace seemed like the perfect name for a manse housekeeper.
"Hometown Boy" has my wonderful friend Rachel's name, as well as another co-worker, and Matt Samuels - which, taken together means something like "God heard, and gave a gift." Given what Matt does, and the headspace of the narrator, that seemed perfect. And the narrator - Reuben - well, his name was the one I picked from a list of about ten names that I could pull the "latter half of the name is another name" trick, but also because it just meant "a son." His relationship with his family is important. The three bashers, well. I came up with something, anyway.
But Reuben - or Ben - has pulled triple duty. I used Ben (short for Benedict) in the third Triad story, and I also used Reuben itself in a story that wasn't accepted called "Range of Motion." I need to lay off poor Ben. None of my Bens seem to have a good time.
In "Elsewhen" I named one character after a talented artist friend who I thought would understand my desire to paint a scar or two in an erotic and loving light. Julian - which pulls double duty - got chosen for being slightly uncommon (which was a plot point) and for meaning hairy. Three sisters are named for co-workers and an LJ friend. And there's a guy with pretty eyes named David, who is named for a guy with pretty eyes named David.
All that to say when I get to the part where I name a character, I spend far too much time thinking about it. I'm sure I'm over-the-top about it. Then again, my name means the world to me - my life is very much divided into "Jon" and "'Nathan" and I guess I just figure my characters are the same.
Though as of the last story I sent out, I've run out of co-workers. Line forms to the right.