Creating Names for Fantasy Characters - A How-To
So, my family is currently in Irvine, California for a trip to Disneyland and other such exciting attractions.
And what am I doing writing a blog post when I should be vacationing you ask?
Well, the answer to that is an unpleasant one. Basically, in short, got food poisoning, puked all day on our eighteen hour car ride, still nauseous today and wasn't able to go out on the first day of Disneyland exploration. Life currently sucks.
So here I am in the lonely hotel room, smelling the tropical-ness outside and seeing the sun going down and being depressed knowing I am missing the fireworks show. Le sigh.
Oh well, I did get to go to SeaWorld yesterday, which had some very cool things to see. Among them being this tree...
I mean, how cool is that, right? I wanted to climb it so bad but it had a fence around it and I feel like the blue-shirted SeaWorld people might not be very happy with me.
In any case, that's been taking up my past few days, trees and puking and sea creatures and cramped hotel rooms full of seven people. Before that it was doing all the farmwork to get ready to go on this trip. As such, I have been falling behind on the March challenge, but I plan to use my nights and days like today where I am ill to catch up. Hopefully. Pray for me.
So, blog post topic is...yes, fantasy names and how to come up with them. Some of my secrets for fantasy naming.
As a writer who has mainly written in the fantasy genre all her life, I have gone through many a character in need of a name. I feel like some people think naming a fantasy character is about smashing the keyboard and trying to make something pronounce-able out of the results, but I am here to say - nay! There are better and surer methods of fantasy naming. Five of which I am prepared to divulge below.
1. Online Name Generators
Revolutionary, amiright? Not really. This is probably the most obvious of my tips, but also a very effective one. There are some enormous and extensive collections of name generators online and a simple Google search for a specific kind, such as "fantasy", will give you thousands of options for your characters. If you haven't tried it, do. If you have, do again.
2. Spelling Names Differently
Another fairly simple point that can be very helpful. Take an ordinary name like, say, Mary. You can twist that in many, many ways. Example; Mari, Meri, Marri, Merri, Marey, etc. However, this method works better on bigger names like maybe, Alexandra; Alixandra, Alyxandraa...
3. Use Names From Other Languages
I personally favor Celtic, Greek, Arabic and other such names for this method. They are some of the best languages to retrieve fantasy names, or names inspired from them. This is also really helpful if you want to include some symbolism. For instance, if you have a character with an affinity for, say, nature and woods, you can look up "tree" in Arabic and get the result (according to Google anyway), Shajara. Which isn't a bad name in my opinion. Of course this is applicable to anything. One should practice caution in this however and be sure to fully examine their sources. You wouldn't want to mess up and make your character's name a joke in someone else's language.
4. If You Are Making Up Some or All of Your Own Fantasy Language, USE IT!
I have made up some languages of my own and this is another great way to use symbolism. For example, the MC of my fantasy novel, The Bayalaa Saga, is called Falaroy Rogoth. He is a lord's son born of prophecy and his name, roughly translated in the Ancient Speech means "favored king". Which is both symbolism and foreshadowing for the story's plot and works very well for him. Making up a whole language is obviously pretty hard, but nobody said it had to be whole. Making up just parts, so long as they are consistent and well thought out, is perfectly acceptable as well.
5. Spelling Names/Things Backwards
My ultimate secret weapon. Okay, it's not much of a secret but it has surprised people in the past with its simplicity and applicability. You can take lots of things and spell it backwards and get something pretty interesting, in most cases. Obviously this doesn't work for every single word, but it works for many. Ocean, for instance, is Neaco spelled backwards. Sea is Aes. Naomi is Imoan. Anything is possible here really. And no one says what you spell backwards can't be tweaked and changed a little to be more presentable. That's very allowed.
So, now that you know my secrets to fantasy naming, please don't be intimidated by the task of naming your cast any longer! Take these tips and get naming!
Do you have any special tips or tricks for coming up with character names? Tell me about them in the comments!