I've a couple of methods of working out names. Feel free to steal all or none of these ideas ^_^.
Changing a letter
This one is a fairly straight forward trick. Take a common name, and change one or two letters for something that's still familiar but a little different.
My original last name for my main character was Jones, but it was a little too ordinary. I cycled through the alphabet and decided Jodes was a better fit. A few others that work out nicely are:
- Smith becomes Mith
- Vivian becomes Jivian or Vijian
- Jimmy becomes Yimmy or Simmy or Dimmy (though that's a bit mean)
This technique works well, especially if you want more unusual names. Pick a random word from your environment and 'tweak' it, just a little, to give yourself some great new options.
- Samsung (the brand-name of my monitor) becomes Amsun or Amsu, both of which I might use
- Nortek (the brand-name of the little USB clock on my desk) becomes Orte or Norte
- Sticky note becomes Kynot
How do you make up new names for your characters?