Characters are our beloved darlings. We love them to pieces and put them through so much (so they can grow mind you). For me when I create my characters they sometimes don't get names straight away. It's not to punish them at all it's just that none have come to mind and I might put off naming them until much later. Somehow even without the names the characters move around with just as much personality as if they do have names. The hard thing about it is I can't just pick a name out of a hat and it becomes their name forever. It just doesn't work like that (most of the time).
My naming processes
1. It drops in
Sometimes a name just drops in and fits the character. It just fits. I don't need to change their name at all. I'm grateful when this happens because (they won't have to go nameless for months if I'm feeling particular clueless as to their names) Other times when it drops in I will try it out for a little while and end up searching for a new one.
For Graeme his name just came. It fit and stuck. I think the day before it could have been Gray though. One thing I did do those is look up the different spellings because I didn't like the spelling of it like this: Graham. I had imagined it the other
When I was writing my novel for campnanowrimo July Samuel James actually began as Benjamin. At first had thought that Benjamin did fit him but then as I was writing it had suddenly changed to Samuel before I had even realised it.
2. Name Generators
I have done this for both first and surnames, but probably more often for last names as they are the hardest to think of. I generally go through them and pick a few that I like the sound of and then I test them out and decide if one fits or suits my character.
De Haven is a last name I found in an a surname generator. When I was little I gave my favourite toy a last name by chopping up my own. It ended up being Obson.
3. Off The Top of My Head
Lastly I try and think of the many names I might know or have heard of and see if they fit a character. This way doesn't always work as some names pop up many times while trying to think up a new name (two characters cannot have the same name).
I'm fairly sure I've had a couple of Michaels in one old story and one newer one. I only have a vague memory of the older story now though as I hadn't really started writing them down as much back then. Which means the newer character is getting the name.
4. It starts with a letter
Then there are the times where I feel like I want a name to start with a certain letter. I don't generally know why but I a letter comes to mind for the start of the name I just need to figure out the rest.
This happened with my character Keira Stanford. Her last name I knew I wanted to start with S and a few days later Stanford came to mind.
Sometimes my characters swap names or it switch from one character to another. For example in the WIP I'm exploring I was looking of name ideas at Fantasy Name Generator and I found Zane and gave it to one character. It didn't stick to him and instead he got named James (which was a dropping sort of name) and his best friend was suddenly Zane.
Bonus: The Definition
Another thing I do is look up the definition to my characters names. I find this interesting to do but it doesn't affect whether the name stays or not. I remember at one point a had a whole list of my family's name definitions with some character name meanings as well.