I have a lousy time trying to name characters. Come to think of it, I had a tough time trying to name my dog. And my cat. And my business. And my child. I'm a big fan of "nicknames," so that was important when naming my child. She needed a name that could be formal if necessary, but informal as well. And her first and middle names had to flow.
Think about it. Names are important. I could always tell when I was in trouble. My mother used my first, middle, and last names. Usually in a highly exasperated tone.
My dad once got in deep "doggie-doo-doo" because of the name of his escape artist dog. Jailbait, the dog, managed to break free of our back yard and find some teenage girls to pet him. Imagine my dad's face when he realized he had just screamed "Come here, Jailbait!" into a crowd like that! The dog's name was soon changed to "Trouble."
Character names are the same. Some characters are "passing through" the novel -- the neighbors of the murder victim, or the check out girl at the grocery store. I don't put the time and energy into those names that I do into the name of re-occurring characters. The name of my main character's father, for example, is important because it would have helped shape my main character. That would have been the last name she grew up with. Where was she in the alphabet? How did that effect her? Did it even matter?
So I research. I find what the names mean. Where did the name originate? How common is it? Does the name and all nicknames associated with it fit my character?
Does it always work? No. I'm honestly not sure I like the name I've given to my FBI agent character. But it's his now and he is starting to fit into it.
Blessings!Nichole (meaning: victorious people)