“When I’m designing a character, I begin with a name. To my way of thinking, it’s impossible to create a character without one. The name I choose cannot be arbitrary, either. It’s the first of the tools that I can use in revealing who and what my creation is, and silly is the writer who fails to recognize this and just slaps any old name on a character without realizing that name’s import to the reader. Names can suggest just about anything to the reader. … traits of personality … social and ethnic background … geography … attitude, or even events that are yet to happen in the story. Names influence how a reader will feel about a character. They also make it easier for the writer to create a character.”
— Elizabeth George, American crime novelist, in Write Away!
I start with the characters and then roll along with the story. It seems more sensible that way. However, I never thought about the other things being affected by the name I choose. I try hard to avoid using family names and with marrying into a large family that is growing by each day, it gets a bit harder I think lol.
Yes — we never know what our characters will become, and if one we’ve named for a relative takes a twisty turn, that could be hard to explain around the Thanksgiving table!