1. MustWrite
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    MustWrite Member

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    Are there any new [good] fantasy names under the sun?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MustWrite, May 20, 2013.

    I have another related question about naming your characters; is it possible to find any new names, [that sound ok], and should I even be endeavoring to find entirely original names?

    There seem to be so many fantasy books out there, some of them filled with huge numbers of invented names, and more than I can read in my life time. So, I can't know all the names that have been used, and does it really matter if my names are apparently borrowed from other books?
    I thought I had thought of a great name for one of my characters, but it was a subconscious borrowed one from Tolkien [Elrohir, one of Elronds twin sons], oops!

    Before I had read much I thought it was 'against the rules' to use known place/character names for your own books. ie Gilead, a bible place name used in Christopher Paolinis' Eragon series], a cool word by the way, love the way it rolls across my tongue!

    Any way, interested to hear your thoughts! :confused:
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Not an easy thing to come up with, the names of characters. I often give mine "place holder" names until a good one comes to mind, so there are a lot of Johns, Micheals and Gregs in my drafts. :D You can look at real life names from foreign languages as a starting point. No need to keep the exact spelling or pronunciation. Tweak it a bit this way or that. One good thing about this method as that if you stick to using the names of a particular real life language or culture, there is a consistant "sound" that keeps them unified when the people in your story all come from a given culture.
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Research in odd places. Take Katniss - it's a little known plant name. Not exactly a fantasy name but it has a futuristic
    edge.
    I always check out books on flora, fauna, cultural studies, folklore, and start jotting words that I like. If they sound like
    they'd make good names I keep them in a seperate file.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Aha.... :) I like this idea! Katniss Everdeen. I would not have thought that her name had that source.

    Also, to the OP, I would steer clear of improbably difficult names for the linguistic palette of the intended reading audience. This is just my personal take on the matter because there are plenty of books that have such names. It took me forever to wrap my mental tongue around the name of Larry Niven's Halrloprillalar Hotrufan, and another character in his Ringworld books whose name was so appalling that I can't actually find the correct spelling of it but was to the tune of Karawesksenjojak. And then there are Tolkien's names. I tried twice to get through The Silmarillion and the names that were so many in number and so similar in form and pronunciation made it more difficult to follow than I was willing to invest of myself to read.
     
  5. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    There is no such rule that states that we can't use already used names. What you shouldn't do is name a character with a name that points to another character who is similar to your character. For example naming an old powerful wizard Gandalf will immediately point to LOTR. That doesn't mean you can't use the name Gandalf (or Elrohir for that matter) for your characters.
     
  6. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    Initially I was going to say "yes" to your subject question but then I read your post and you had a legitimate concern.

    I'm going to have to second Xatron here. Just try not to make connections (a guy named Gandalf practicing magic) unless it's absolutely intentional, such as making a joke or statement about the character. A guy might proclaim he's a wizard and call himself Gandalf because he thinks he's that good but really he's just pathetic. But he's so deluded that he won't see the truth... Otherwise, there's a lot of baggage that comes along with popular names. Naming someone Katniss now might draw the ire of fans but it will probably also pick up the baggage of the character being a bad*ss (I assume, know little to nothing about her or the movie/books). You just kind of have to weigh things on a case-by-case basis there.

    Beyond that, it's as you said: virtually impossible to know all the names in all the fantasy out there. Overlap is inevitable. The thing is, unless the character's well-known, most people won't realize it. Forget what's out there and just find names you like. There's only one character (my main character) that I've ever Googled to figure out if it was used before. Even if I'd found it to be so, I'd stick with the name. I might be a little disappointed in the lack of novelty of the name but I wouldn't be terrible surprised.

    I'm getting more and more tired so I can only hope this is coherent.
     
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Names can't be copyrighted - otherwise there'll be tonnes of lawsuits, can you imagine? :D

    Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale also uses the name Gilead.

    There's nothing stopping you from using names already in existence - something like Elrohir, I think, is fine. Few people will have heard of it, fewer will remember, unless they're die-hard Tolkien fans. And even then, as long as it's actually your own character, not a replica of Tolkien's, then you're fine.

    What you shouldn't do is use a name like Gandalf, or Frodo. Some names are far too iconic and immediately conjure up a specific image. In those cases, I'd steer away from borrowing names. For example, no matter how original your character of Yoda is, people simply will not stop thinking about a tiny green kung-fu alien :D
     
  8. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Personally, I come up with names of characters based on some important aspect of them, and I look at the Latin root of that word.
    An example is a MC in a fantasy short story I made uses arrows and bows.In Latin, arrow is Sagitta, so I gave him the male name Sagi.
     
  9. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    95/100 of Tolkien's names for people and places are taken from old Norse poems. Same thing goes with most fantasy names, they are either already used or an amalgam of names used before.
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's fine if you want to call your cat Gandalf; I'd be very wary of naming your wizard Gandalf, though.

    There are lots of good suggestions in the above commentary, on how to come up with original names for your characters. Names taken from foreign languages, scientific names shortened, names shortened from zodiac signs ...all sorts of sources. The dictionary. Mix a set of scrabble letters and see what you come up with.

    If you are writing an original story, do your characters the honour of giving them original names, too! Then, when you are a rich and famous author, your characters will stand alone and be remembered, as much as Tolkien's characters are.

    I quite like that one, Blackstar! Good name.
     
  11. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why can't you create your own?

    I'm writing a YA fantasy novel and I've created almost all of my characters names. Look at the keyboard, pick a letter that stands out to you and just start attaching noises until something sounds right. All those good names came from somewhere.

    I have Cseida, Myirna, Jolvis, Boultyr, and that's just the tip of the iceburg. It's fun for me to create names. I have very few original names, and the only reason I use them is to make the main characters a little easier to connect with. Have fun with it! It'll add a unique touch to your story and make you feel even more accomplished!!


    Blessings,
    Lea
     
  12. Ciabella
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    Ciabella New Member

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    You don't have to invent new names. You can search for rare, forgein ones. I for example have characters named Caleb (it's a Jewish name) and Olayinka (African name, I believe).
     
  13. Tuli
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    Tuli New Member

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    I actually collect names from all over, real and fictitious. I watch movie credits, walk graveyards, and even read phone books to find names that grab my attention. I have acquired a rather large spreadsheet full of names now.
     

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