I've been thinking a lot about names lately. Partly because I'm starting to lay the groundwork for another book, and a big part of that is picking out the names. I always look for a mixture of common and uncommon names, because I can't decide which is worse--when all the characters have boring, generic names like Jane and John, or when everyone has soap opera names like Magnolia and Jock.
Please note that I don't have anything against the names Magnolia and Jock, if you happen to be named one of those things. Or Jane and John, for that matter. I'm talking about the balance of names as a whole. If you look at, say, a classroom, you'll usually find a nice mix. You've seen some of those names a million times. Some are familiar but not hugely popular--as a Carrie I usually fell into that category. I also fell into the category has-heard-every-prom-joke-known-to-man because of that pesky Stephen King book, but that's another story. And then, you'll see a couple of names that make you tilt your head like a confused dog and say, "What is THAT?!? Who names their kid THAT?"
I think books should be the same way. I think that for every Mrs. Swan your main character has for chemistry, she should also have a Mrs. Mihalovic for bio. And just with those names, I get a picture of the teacher in my head. Mrs. Swan is pretty chill, and she likes to be called Swannie because it's better than all the inevitable Twilight references. Mrs. Mihalovic is the sort of person who likes to give pop quizzes and refers to all of her students as "Miss" and "Mr."
And yes, those are two of the teachers in BTIB.
So I'm off to spend a little time with the baby name book, and then when people see it and get all excited, I get to tell them, "NO. I AM NOT HAVING ANOTHER BABY, SO DON'T ASK AGAIN." But what about you? How do you name your characters? What are your favorite names? Be forewarned...I'm naming. So please let me know if it's sacred and I can't use it for a bad guy.