I can't tell you when we stumbled upon Max. I can tell you, though, that it was absolutely the ONLY boy name we both liked. And so it was decided -- when we knew it was a boy, he was always Max. That was the only name he ever could have been. Now that he's almost five, Max is SUCH an appropriate choice -- he's the "greatest," as his name implies, but he's also the most of things, the top of things, the first in line, the loudest in the room. He is Max.
In some ways, this is the same way I choose my character names. Nora, for example, is the name of my main character in Taste Test; I chose it after seeing a friend talking about her daughter on Facebook. I loved the name and felt like it had a timelessness that I wanted my MC to personify. And you'll remember Giada, my favorite girl name? She is the "best friend" counterpart to Nora in the book.
Sometimes the names just come, of course. But most of the time, I really do put the kind of care and time into names as I do into plot outlines. I let them roll around in my head. I imagine conversations between two potential characters and see how those names fit. The MS I'm working on now has main characters whose names both start with the same letter; I really like that duality, because other than that, these characters are vastly different.
I'm fascinated as to how others choose their character names, so you tell me: How do you name your characters? Is there a method to your madness?
Kelly Fiore's debut novel, Taste Test, is forthcoming from Bloomsbury USA/Walker BFYR in August 2013. You can find out more about Kelly at www.kellyfiorewrites.com or by following her on Twitter at @kellyannfiore.