I don't know about you guys, but I spend a loooong time thinking up names for my characters. For me, the vague idea in my head isn't really a person until he or she has a name attached, and I have to be very careful about those names because once they're there, I find them almost impossible to change.
I went through some epic name changes with the werewolf novel between this draft and the last one, mostly with minor characters (for some ridiculous reason I gave Rose (whose name was originally Roslyn, called Rose) and her family very Germanic names. And they were still French. I know. Silly me), but that was still hard. Avar was also originally Avar's nickname - his original name was something similar but very complicated and Armenian, which even my Armenian friends couldn't pronounce. So... that had to go.
But character names are important. They often set up the personality of the character, and they have to match the setting and time period of the story. (Right now I have a plot bunny character who really wants to be called Caroline but I'm not sure I'm going to let her; I can't think of names that would go well with it for the other characters in that setting.)
The tricky part is coming up with names for your characters that are unique but not ridiculous. Even if you write historical fiction, nobody wants every girl character to be called Mary, right?
Fantasy and sci fi novels tend to get a bit silly when it comes to names. I can think of two popular books with very nice male leads with utterly ridiculous names, which to me spoils the fun a little bit.
To me, it's finding a balance between the unique and the normal, and even more importantly finding a name that fits that character. Even though Rose was originally just her nickname, she's still been Rose from the very beginning of this crazy story of mine. And it takes a lot of time - I've been known to spend hours surfing through baby names sites to find the perfect names for my characters. But finding a good match is worth all that time (and on my favorite name list, the baby names page on weddingvendors.com, all the popups) to find a good match.
Here is Hank Green's guide on naming, which, though meant for baby names, also works quite nicely for characters.
(I am quite fond of 6 - spell like a normal person. My name is spelled correctly, and yet because there are so many weird ways to spell Caitlin, I still have to spell it out for people EVERY TIME. Although it was a bit weird, Libba Bray (in BEAUTY QUEENS) and Natalie Standiford (in CONFESSIONS OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS) get major points for spelling Caitlin right. (The sister in Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE was also named Jenna, which is my sister's name. Libba Bray is clearly sneaking into my head and stealing my names. Clearly.)
How do you guys go about naming characters?
(Also, apparently I wrote about this over a year ago, but it bears repeating.)