I'm talking about the names we invent for our characters. As I am going to spend a fair bit of time with them, getting the name right for both story, genre and character is vitally important especially if it is going to work as a whole.
I read a short story once where the main hero was called Rad Stangler. A horrible name, awful. The story wasn't much better but the name stuck with me, and much to my chagrin it still tickles me.
So how do we choose names? I have a variety of 'name' books, but I have to say that I very rarely use them. When choosing the name for my main protagonist in 'Coven of One' I can honestly say that the name 'Dorcas' came in the same instant as the story took shape in my mind (as much as it ever does at the beginning). Her name was synonymous with the 'era' that I was aiming for and seemed to sum up the sensibly booted witch that I wanted to portray. Other names leapt from the obits in local papers and it was easy to couple them up with already well known Cornish monikers. Cornwall is awash with surnames that begin with 'Tre', 'Pen' and 'Pol', and has a multitude of delightfully unusual first names. The only one I didn't manage to squeeze in was 'Loveday' (pronounced Luvdie), but whose to say it won't appear somewhere!
I adore the process of finding names for my writing. I carry lists of possibilities around with me, making note of any that I take a fancy to. Funny really, when choosing the names of the feckers we only managed to find two that we both liked!