I'm working on a story, and a familiar sensation has arrived: utter blankness when faced with a character name. This used to drive me utterly insane, but thanks to a panel at Saints and Sinners, I was given a great little trick by one of the generous authors (I think it was Jess Wells, but I might be mistaken.) Never stop when it's flowing - not to look up something, or describe something, or, in my case, name something - just keep writing, and make a note to go back later. I use square brackets.
Instead of staring at the screen with a cursor while I stare and try to will a name to appear, I give the character a quality or quick moniker, and move on. "Explain," said [WITCH]. The story progresses, I know who [WITCH] is, and it's easy to type.
More importantly, a quick Find and Replace moment leaves me with the option to change all those [WITCH] appearances into whatever little name I finally decide upon - without interrupting the flow. If only this trick worked with titles - but I've already talked about the horror that I find titles.
Speaking of which, I don't have a title for this story. Naturally.
My point, however, is that I'm about to need names again. I've almost used up my store of names from work - I think I've now used the name of every staff member in one of my stories or another - and I do have that trusty "10,000 Baby Names" book I bought way back in high school to help pick names for characters. Incidentally, that's a fun purchase to explain to a worried parent when they find it.
Sometimes, a name really matters - I've used the name Reuben for a specific plot reason in a story, one where the character has been using the name "Ben" but that the two are one and the same person hasn't occurred to anyone else. I've also spent far too long mining the internet for name meanings - Cary, Jennifer, and Dylan, for example, had names chosen entirely for their meanings one of my more recent stories.
Where do you go for character names? Do they appear, fully formed with the character, in your mind? Do you also mine your co-workers? Friends? Random street corners, or a glance through the newspaper?