When writing a fiction story, how do you come up/choose last names?
It depends on the type of story. As I like SF and Fantasy I often just make up names that sound real yet are not.
It really does depend. I also write fantasy and if it takes place "off earth" I often make simple names up, most of them sounding alike based on the culture I've created (and if it's based on a "real" culture here on Earth.)
For stories that take place a little close to home, it comes down to two things. 1) Whatever sounds good with their first name (that comes to mind first) and 2) Any names that may reflect their heritage. Of course sometimes this goes the other way, I'll give a character a last name and then look it up to figure out what their genetic history may be.
This might sound silly, but I pretend they are my children, and give them a name that sounds good with each other. Obviously, I'll have already decided the gender, age, and nationality of my character, which give me a starting point. Based on these factors, I look into the character and give them a name I love. Once they have a first name (which always seems to be the easiest part for me) it's like naming them in reverse. What sounds good and plausible with the first name (I usually give them a middle name too, even if I never use it in the story, just to help me find the last name). It's a really subjective process, with lots of ways to do it, but I think your instincts will lead you in the right direction. Have fun with it, you're in control and can do what you like!
This is probably a little odd, but when I used to write short stories in high school I'd consult my stack of baseball cards. I'd pick a first name from one card, the last name from another card, and if they sounded good together I'd roll with it.
I usually steal names from books or television programmes that I love, either that or I name charecters after my friends... Failing that i look p baby names on the internet! Lol x
When I wrote fiction regularly, I often kept lists of last names. It can be tough to come up with names on the spot in the middle of writing.
I LOVE this question. I have always had the most difficulty with coming up with names in my books and stories. In my first book, The Rivers Webb, I lucked out because I was able to use the names of deceased family members, but other than that, I had to struggle with what sounds right and how it would sound off the tongue to my readers. I eventually solved this problem with a bizarrely random, yet somehow effective means: Boggle.
I use an old boggle game, line up the consonants, and compare them to real surnames. The first name usually comes to me once I get that far. It sounds stupid, but I swear it works!
For me, I always find choosing last names the hardest - which is why I asked this question. I run a home business with my fiance and lately have been looking at the last names of our customers and writing down the ones that pop out at me as possibilities. I find that I don't want to go to the standards, I want something kind of different, not hard to pronounce or spell, and something that fits with the first name.
I love all the answers I have been seeing here - you all have some great ideas!
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