Hannah Moskowitz's post got me thinking about character names.
And I've been reading a lot of Alice Hoffman books lately (I yield to no one in my love for Alice Hoffman's writing, Boston Globe debacle or not). Hoffman seems to choose great character names. I'm currently re-reading Here On Earth, which is a modern retelling of Wuthering Heights. I love Wuthering Heights, and Hoffman handles the material brilliantly. She keeps the family structures and the relationships, but by moving the setting to a strange small town in New England, she turns the story into something new. This isn't an isolated rural outpost on the moors, where Cathy and Heathcliff's only contact with the world was peeking through the windows of Thrushcross Grange. Here, husbands can arrive unexpectedly from California. There is a high school that has dances. And to get to Logan Airport in Boston, you just ask Ken Helm to drop you there in his truck. But insane passions and requited love that really ought to be unrequited still rule over all.
The names seem especially well chosen. The Catherine Earnshaw character, who doesn't die young but lives to share main-character duty with her daughter, is called March (short for Marcheline, which she hates). It suits her perfectly, somehow. Her daughter is named Gwen (Gwen Cooper, actually, which sent my inner Torchwood fan into squeals of delight), which also works- it's old-fashioned, classic, and seems all wrong for the rebellious, moody Gwen we meet at the start of the novel. By the middle, Gwen has grown into her name, and it works.
My own main character, as you may know, is called Rosie. To me, the name Rosie sounds like an upturned nose, and it suits Rosie, who answers back. She isn't a Rose. She could never be a Rose. I was also a little restricted in choosing character names for my WIP - in Ireland in 1920s, when most of my characters were born, children were overwhelmingly named after Catholic saints or members of their family, so I needed something either saintly or traditional. Rosie seemed to work, although it wouldn't have been an especially Catholic name at that time, simply because the name Rose is so old that her parents may have chosen it for any number of reasons.
It is difficult to get names exactly right. Several placeholder names in my novel have stuck and become part of the character and now I can't get rid of them.
How do you choose names for your characters? Even picked the wrong one? What's the best name you ever came up with?