1. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    Choosing a Name

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by katica, Apr 15, 2011.

    I have the hardest time coming up with character names, although part of that might be because I write fantasy novels. It takes me from hours to days to name my characters and I'm usually never satisfied with the final product.

    How do I make this process easier? And how do I know when I've chosen the right name? And how do you guys usually choose out names for your characters?

    Because I know that if choose a hard to pronounce or stupid name, sometimes you can lose some of your suspension of disbelief or so I have read.
     
  2. Rachael1918
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    Rachael1918 New Member

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    I find it difficult myself sometimes, especially trying to come up with 'real' sounding names that don't sound ridiculously ostentatiousness.

    I tend to skip between three names for female characters (Sarah, Isabelle and Laura) as they feel like safe bets, having a nice sound to them while not being overly showy.

    What sort of fantasy world have you got? If it's a medieval-esque one, it would probably be a good idea to look up names that were common in that era.
     
  3. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, don't fret about it too much, especially not before the story is finished. Most fantasy names are pretty silly when you think about them, but you get used to them and they start to seem natural in the setting. And you can always fix it afterwards - it's better to get on with the writing than to get stuck on details.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I write a fantasy but mine tend to have names like Angus, Beatrice, Socrates, Nate, Lorenzo, Jack, Tom, Alexander, Mark, Bessie, Jane etc Figured it was probably more original than making them up I also have Damocles, Hyancinthus, Michaelangelo, etc or Kazuto, Rikuto, Shun, Chao, Bai etc Have yet to have any complaints with my readers about the names.

    Some I chose for meaning, some I used behindthenames random renamer just keep clicking until I find one with meaning I like and sound I like. Socrates arrived with his name.
     
  5. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    Try taking common names and playing around with lettering until it sounds interesting or neat for a character. In the novel I'm writing all of my characters have names that are just variations on regular names.

    Lucille became Lucillia
    Ian became Inahn
    Damien became Dahmin

    See? Then there's Cerridwyn, which just sounds fantasy-like to begin with. :)
     
  6. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    That's awesome. Thank you. I will do that with names in the future. It's a good idea for fantasy novels because people expect a name they don't hear every day but not a name that's impossible to pronounce.
     
  7. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Create a naming/language pattern. Then just pick a name. The characters will grow into them.

    Just check if the name is shout-able. Parents, friends and lovers will during the characters life shout the characters name for different reasons. It that is impossible, the character probably has a nickname of some sort.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have to say in all the feeback i have had - even the insulting ones there hasn't been one that have said the names are out of place or they have a problem with them. I have had compliments about how well the names suit the characters and also that it gives the story a strangely relateable/normal feel in what is clearly an otherworldly situation. Only name I made up is Fyren he is a fire elemental (His grandfather is Ember, his brother Blayze, wife a parrot named Flare, son Flame etc)
     
  9. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    Naming patterns, yes, they are important. I have them within my races. In the Nottacs, the longer your name the more important you are. And in the Voll's everyone has 'ah' somewhere in their names.
     
  10. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    "A rose by any other name..."

    Names themselves are arbitrary, literally. No one gets to choose their own name, let alone something like Rad McAwesomepants III - it is chosen for them. Historically in a modest, traditional fashion.
    The most important thing for me is that the name match the culture from which it came. American names: John, Bob, Dave, Kyle, etc. Latino: Jose, Fernando, Carlos, Hector, etc.

    If most of your characters have mundane names & mister chosen one has something comparatively gaudy, that stands out to me. Same as vice versa.

    Either way, again, names are next to meaningless. One of my best friends is named David: he's awesome, clever, unique & an all around cool guy, but you couldn't infer as much from his generic name. That's because who a person is & what their name is aren't necessarily related, at all.

    Personally, I almost always use generic place-holder names for my characters that almost always end up being their actual name, strangely. It doesn't effect who they are in the slightest, so don't worry about it. Just make it consistent within the world, even fantasy needs consistancy, obviously.
     
  11. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Names are extremely easy to me for some reason.

    Especially when it comes to fantasy, it can be either very easy or very difficult for people. It's easy because you can make up whatever the hell you want, since, well, it's a fantasy world. It's difficult because in reality you can't make up whatever you want, because some names just are either too cliche (Drakzzorn the Dark Lord), too weird for it's own good (King P'xd'chko'appl) and so forth.

    I usually get my fantasy names from my conlangs, or constructed langs - making up languages is something that's steeped in the tradition of fantasy, going all the way back to Tolkien, and it's something I engage in. No, not making a cipher for the English language and a blatant copy of the Latin alphabet, but an entirely new language for each constructed culture with its own grammatical system and so forth. But maybe you don't want to go that far. You can still make up names that sound foreign, and maybe names that hint at the cultural flavor of your fantasy world. "Rahish Ar-Khudan" probably is from an Arabic-inspired fantasy culture; "Qingli" is probably from a Chinese-inspired one; "Gurtmard Weizer" is German; and Docielle Cremenois is French, ans so on and so forth. If you have a hard time making up names like that off the top of your head, you can always use the random name generators that are found on the internet (there's tons of them), and use one to keep pumping out names until you get one that you like.
     

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