Posts Tagged With: character naming

My Favourite Place for Names

A while back I wrote about names. I offered some stories and strategies I use for coming up with names. What I didn’t talk about, however, was how sometimes names just won’t come. Everything you try doesn’t sound right. Or you aren’t sure where to start looking when it comes to names for people from different cultures. Or maybe it’s not a person you need to name, it’s a place. What do you do then?

Find yourself a name generator.

I have a personal favourite for this task that I wish to share. Fantasy Name Generators was a website I came across while bored browsing the web. The Fantasy Name Generator is an endless source of naming delight. Their random generators touch all corners of your writing needs, from fictional people in a modern setting, to fantasy worlds, and the realm of fanfiction.

Under the ‘Real Names’ section, seekers will find three columns listing generators by ethnicity. The names range from modern to archaic to ancient in some cultures. Within, you can select whether you want a male or female name, as the family names generated are the same for both, you can easily go through dozens of names before finding one that you think fits.

Some warning here though. As some cultures use different writing systems from us and have different naming conventions, it is always best to do some follow-up research on a name. Make sure you have the western spelling right, and maybe ask someone from that culture if the name looks right.

Under the Fantasy Names tab, you get a strange and assorted list. Anything from Amazons to serial killers to vampires to wizards can have their name generated here. You get goblin names like Plyz or Slivak. Detective names like Norah Sharpe or Dan Maxwell. Superhero names like Venombite, or Doctor Smooth Vulture.

Okay, that last one was a bit silly. Some of them are.

The Pop Culture section is a fanfiction writer’s dream. While it’s not as extensive, it does focus on the bigger names: Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Star Wars and such. Great if you’re trying to name that minor original character from your Avatar: The Last Airbender story. Or if you just can’t decide what to name your next World of Warcraft character.

But for some, naming a character is easy. It’s the places around them—the cityies and cafes the parks and mountains—that stump the writer-to-be. Your protagonist could have a date at The Royal Junction or buy their morning brew from Big Boulder Coffee or spend their nights with friends at Club Embassy. Information is exchanged during a foggy night at Sunnyside Memorial Park. The possibilities here are endless.

But that’s not where it ends. Need a title for that catchy tune the bard is always singing? They have a Song Name generator. They’ve got Guild Names and Spell Names and Afterlife Names and Currency Names. Within their “Other” section, you’ll find all sorts of miscellaneous names you never knew you needed!

But this site offers more than just names. Stuck on an idea for your next short story? It offers plot descriptions and prompts. Need an actual idea for a city? It won’t only give you a name, it will give you some history and attractions for you to use as a springboard when you develop your world. The descriptions can be tweaked of course, to better fit your story.

The Fantasy Name Generator is easily one of my favourite resources for names. Here’s hoping it may become one of yours.

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Categories: On Writing, research findings, stuff i like | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Name Game

What’s in a name?

A pain in the ass, that’s what.

I feel like I’ve never been good at naming characters. Names hold a lot of meaning in fiction, more than in real life. When I name a character, I’m giving them an identity. As such, I’ve always had trouble naming characters. Though, it comes in certain degrees.

I have several policies of character naming:

1)      The “I would name my kid this” policy—Essentially, these names are chosen because they’re names I legitimately like. I’d honestly consider giving any kids I might have names like Amelia, Dorian, Lenore, Sebastian, or Isadora. Granted, maybe not after getting published. That might make me seem weird.

2)      The “I like this name, but probably would name a kid this” policy—Same deal as above, except I wouldn’t name my kid Basil, Hershel, or Gertrude. They’re a bit old fashioned, and work better for some my characters.

3)      The “Yes, these sound good” policy—This usually applies to last names as well. It also generally involves me finding a first name I like and a last name I like and slapping them together to see how they sound. A lot of my characters—Meredith Sawyer, Dorian Everett, Mabel Midworth—have their names as a result of that.

4)      The “I put actual effort into this one” policy—When I consciously pick names based on meanings or cultural significance. I’ve named a new character—a sorcerer thief who can control a swarm of magical rats that devour anything in its path—Malekulfar, which is Arabic, and roughly translates to King of Rats, according to an Arabic-speaking friend of mine. Granted, it’s one of the more obvious name meanings, but it sounds like an evil overlord name, so I like it.

5)      The “Dear god why did I include non-humans with weird names in this” policy—Whether it be goblins, aliens, elves, demons, or your own made-up species, unusual names can be difficult. Half the time, my names for goblins aren’t thought out at all. I throw a bunch of letters together, ask myself if this random gibberish sounds like it could be a name, and if I say yes, this goblin has a name.

Needless to say, I praise the creation of name generators.

What about you, readers? Do you have tricks for character naming, or are you just naturally good at it?

Categories: On Writing | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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