I'm naming characters at the moment. Some spring, already named, into being, while, for others, I've dug out the baby name book. There was a bit of an awkward moment earlier when my husband came home and found it slung on the sofa; but he seems to be breathing normally again now, and the funny maroon shade has faded from his face.
With my first book I don't remember it taking much effort at all to think of names, but this time I have extra criteria. Because some of the characters aren't very pleasant in this story, I want to be as careful as possible to avoid 'real' names, while making them sound realistic. I've scoured the phone book for unusual surnames, and asked my husband to report back on any striking names he comes across through work.
Obviously, I'm aiming for names that suit the age and social standing of characters, too - it goes without saying that I'm not just plucking out the weirdest names possible from the book. Although, wouldn't it be fun to write a story where every character had some outlandish name?
A quick google on each name I settle on gives me an idea of whether it is already in use, although a tweak to the spelling can keep a name in the running even if the first version is no good.
What methods do you use to find great names for your characters?