Naming my characters has in itself been quite a long process. I wanted to be creative, unique, but I also wanted to make sure they had significance to their personalities and their heritage. After all descents of the ancient royal kingdoms of Ireland wouldn't be Joe, or Billy-Bob. Or maybe they would, who knows.
The last names, after long hours of research were simple. The five ancient kingdoms have give direct descendant lines and family names, hah, done, it was almost too easy they even had Anglicized versions. Once that was over and done with I picked names for the main characters. At first I went with names I liked, or that had some sort of Mythological reference. I had Fionnuala and Fiachra and Conn from Children of Lir. Callum, just because I liked the sound. Neely, because it was unique Eoghan, Cian, and Braden.
After getting about halfway into writing it I started to worry that too many complicated names in one story might develop into frustration for the reader. So, then I decided to simplify, keep the culture ditch the complicated pronunciations. I'd settled on Liam, Owen, Niall, Sapphire Brendan, Patrick. After changing them a second time I felt like they were too common... I know about 10 Liam's, My cousin's name is Liam... not to mention Liam Neeson, Liam Hemsworth, Liam of 90210. Niall didn't feel as fun and different as and kept taking my mind back to One Direction which was not where I wanted it to go at all.
How unique is too unique? Hunger Games pulled a lot of new names out of the woodwork like Katniss, Finnick, Cinna, but they were all relatively easy to pronounce. Harry Potter had Sirius and Hermoine... pronunciations of which, despite their mythological context, were in debate until finally the movie seemed to set it straight (not that it's stopped the arguments). I've settled on a final name list most of which I've chosen based on their meaning and relevance to each character, but there is still a worry hanging in my mind on a few of the choices, is simple boring? Is cultural too difficult to grasp. I've even considered a pronunciation guide at the beginning of the novel but that seems almost verging on ridiculous.
Another issue is the branding, too specific descriptions of cars, technology, places. So far I've been vague in phone, computer, plane or car descriptions because I want the novel to exist over an unspecified time from now, to a few years ago, perhaps a few years into the future. I know sometimes the car someone drives can define who they are, it can also become some what of an iconic symbol or a character of its own. e.g. The '67 Chevy Impala of Supernatural, or The Silver Volvo of Twilight. Does my male lead simply drive an SUV or does he drive a 2012 green Range Rover with grey interior? So far I haven't even said he drives an SUV at all, in fact other than the point that the car runs, has a backseat and has a trunk that's as far as the description has gone. Is it enough? Should I envision a specific type of car, or is it just a matter of whether or not I think it will add or remove from the story.
I want a reader to be able to relate and envision a world which I've created that is part of the world they live in but I also want their imagination to prosper on their own terms.