And how important is the name we chose for our characters?
After all, we all have a name. It may be short (Brad Pitt) or long (Ernest Hemingway), traditional (James Patterson) or "trendy" (Taylor Lautner). Some names rhyme (Jack Black) while others appear to be more random (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart). Some of us like our names while others may be less pleased.
Names often awaken associations - when we hear a name, most of us will, for at least a split second, think of a family member, friend, coworker, or just an obnoxious acquaintance we know by that name and may transpose that person's traits onto the fictional character.
Certain names may also be unfairly imbued with personality traits - a Michael or Joseph, at least initially, is more likely to be viewed as conservative or boring whereas a Ty or a Zak may be thought of as hip and young.
And then there are the names that carry unavoidable stereotypes - think Judas or Adolph.
The name we give our character also depends on the period our story is set in (how many Berthas or Helgas have you met lately?) and the country it takes place in (actually, if you were just in Germany, you may have run into quite a few Helgas).
With all that, naming my characters has been a bit of a challenge. I am happy with my main character's name and those I chose for his immediate family members (I stuck with the names I gave them before I started writing), but I am still struggling with the names I gave to the secondary characters.
How do you go about naming your characters? Do you know what name you will give them before you even start? Or do you simply google the yellow pages?