1. Crocodile_Casualties
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    Crocodile_Casualties New Member

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    Appropriate Names in Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Crocodile_Casualties, Jul 18, 2010.

    If a story takes place in an entirely fantasy world (like Middle Earth or Alagaesia) does it seem inappropriate to use conventional naming? I mean if Spain doesn't exist then can there be Spanish names? Or for that matter Spanish characters in general?

    Should I a) Make up fantasy names that fit the setting (possibly derived from real names); b) Come up with an explanation as to why there are Spaniards in the story; or c) Say "screw it" and give the characters whatever names I feel like.

    I know it's my story and I can do what I want, but I'd appreciate some feedback.
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't use the Spanish names. Doing so would just raise questions in the readers' minds (Why are these elves named Hernandez?). You would pretty much have to explain the Spanishness of the elves.

    I think you should invent names that don't remind readers of any identifiable human nationality or group, if you can. No sense in making things more complicated than they need to be.
     
  3. Herl
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    Herl Member

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    I support this.

    When I was writing this big fantasy project I just inveted names out of thin air as long as they sounded cool and looked cool in words. yes, that was my standard for name creation, but what can I say, overthinking names only leads to insanity.
     
  4. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    Well, since I have a fantasy counterpart of Spain (with a dash of Italy in the form of vineyards) in my story, I usekind of exotic-ish names, but not to the point where it's conspicuous. For example, I changed a character's name from "Cortez" to "Cortys", because there are lots of "Y's" in my naming system, and it's a coastal country (the word "Cortys" reminds me of seashells o_O).

    If your setting is supposed to be based off of Spain, try to make the names as mildly Spanish as possible. If not, I suggest making the names AS LEAST Spanish as possible. Or, modify Spanish names to fit the setting.
     
  5. Nalix
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    Nalix Member

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    Don't worry too much about the names, unless you want them to be in someway significant, symbolic, or are part of a language/culture you created or want to portray.

    Just make sure that the names don't raise questions you don't plan on answering (like the Spanish thing), and that they are easy to remember (Don't give two or more characters the same name, unless that's an integral part of the story). Pretty much any name that's cool, memorable, and doesn't distract from the story.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My work is in its embryo but so far no one who has read it seems to mind that I have used named like Fred, Bessie, Thomas etc:). The people who are descended from the indigenous tribe I have corrupted asian names. I even have a Fly Fornication lol:) he has a story explaining that though.

    And the teens I have reading my story read quite a bit of fantasy. They have provided me with detailed comments but seem unconcerned with the names
     
  7. Crocodile_Casualties
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    Crocodile_Casualties New Member

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    See that's the thing, I don't think that character names necessarily take away from the enjoyment of a story, but they can raise questions.

    Some of my MCs are Ozora Miles (The first name is of Hebrew origin and the last names is English); Zeke Santiago (Ezekiel is again Hebrew and Santiago is Spanish); and Gracie Hayes (All English).

    So if you were reading a fantasy story and there was a Hispanic char, would it confuse you or am I just obsessing over a detail that in the long run doesn't really matter? I mean the "Dark Tower" series had Susan Delgado, right?
     
  8. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well. How is the world built. What cultures have you lend a lot from? Do you feel it is appropriate to lend name culture to? What mood are you trying to set? Are you aiming for a fantasy world culturally much alike to some historical culture in the world etc?

    If you set the world in a culture and a climate close to some Spanish speaking cultures it might fit perfectly. It all depends on your agenda.
     
  9. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like w176 indicated.

    Consider this: You're concerned because certain names/types of names in our 'real world' carry some message or meaning to those who read or encounter them. Why wouldn't it be the same in the world you're devising?

    Terry
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    well my target market readers have asked me a variety of questions about minor details. One spotted my bareback rider really was bareback as he had gone to bed without his clothes on the night before:) But I have yet to have any questions about the names. However my story has an explanation as to why they may have Earth related names so that maybe why, And the indigenous characters have oriental style names so they wouldn't be familiar with them - hmm I know a Chinese teen maybe worth running it past them. I actually couldn't imagine my world now with different names

    Personally when I read I find the names and even the style of writing are less important than the story, I appreciate it more when its well written, but if the story is good will forgive most things. And actually sometimes the names in the Fantasy Novels can be a little distracting, I have to put thought into pronouncing them etc I found with Pern most names were fine but there were one or two that almost distracted from the story.
     
  11. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    Modify existing Spanish and/or Italian names, that although are unique to your book, will hint at the cultures you are suggesting. Hernandez, changes to Hurnandiaz, for example (first thing I could think of, I'm sure there is something better).

    The names should fit the character, and be easily identifiable; although in my book, I have made some names up, but with others, have actually given them 'real' names on purpose, which adds to the humour - a robot called 'Dave' for example.
     
  12. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    You can't have two characters born and raised in the same city called Fred and Ill'tongurinon. It's so funny when I see such things, particularly when they're from the same culture.
     
  13. Donal
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    Donal Contributing Member

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    Can't you? I have friends with Italian, Spanish, German, Irish and Hebrew names. EDIT: and we are all born and raised in same city of only 80,000 people.
     
  14. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well take any big city on earth and you WILL see this phenomena.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think you're worrying too much about this, Crocodile.

    Think about this - you're worried about using Spanish names if Spain doesn't exist, but you're more than happy to use a name like Fred? Fred (Frederick) is a Germanic name, so what if Germanic cultures don't exist?

    Any actual name you use is going to be associated with some earth culture that doesn't exist in a fantasy world. So you're either reduced to using completely made-up names like Cha#!&gulKa-!tok (apologies to bushmen if that's a real name), or you just use the names you want to use and don't worry so much about this. As long as they're internally consistent within your fantasy world, you're fine.

    Take Robert Jordan, for example. Matt, Rand and Perrin all come from the same small village. Matt is Hebrew, Rand is German, and Perrin is English. At least in OUR world. But in Jordan's world, they're all apparently used by the same culture.

    It's you're world, and it's a made-up world. Your creations can use whatever names you decide they should have.
     
  16. Crocodile_Casualties
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    Crocodile_Casualties New Member

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    Actually, I was just using Spain as an example. I meant that no conventional name could exist without the culture and language it's derived from.

    So far, all the human characters have "Earth-names", while other species have made up names. Would that seem like an inconsistency?

    Anyway, I think you're right. I probably am giving this undue obsession. Thanks, Steerpike.
     
  17. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    No. It would not be an inconsistency.

    You seem to ha made this choice to have human relatable and other races foreign. And as a tool it works well i would say.
     

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