1. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Got a problem with..

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Marcelo, Aug 4, 2008.

    Surnames. Usually, I find it rather easy to find names that sound good for my characters, taking in account their personalities and looks. But surnames... That's more difficult. For example, how can I create surnames like the ones employed by Mr. Tolkien? (Sackville, Baggins, Took, you get the idea) Or Victorian England-esque. Help, I'd really appreciate it.
     
  2. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Well the easy way is to take their personality or history and apply it.

    IE: The MC is the son of a bread baker, so his name is "John Baker". Just like if he was the son of a blacksmith he might be "John Smith"

    or if he was a lay good-for-nothing he might be "John Slacker", or he was a traveler he might be "John Roads" (Rhodes).

    You get the idea.

    Other factors would be location and social class. Peasants normally did not have surnames, while noble and rich did. In this case, the rich would take value in family names like "Tudor" for example.

    I am not sure if any of this helpful to you.
     
  3. saulka
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    saulka Member

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    To create surnames for fantasy, surely all you have to do is make some words up? Tolkien's surnames are variations of typical surnames, so that they still sound familiar, as though Middle Earth could be real. It depends what type of writing you are doing. If it's a realistic, modern story, use surnames that exist. They'll fit in the same way as you described christian names to, as long as you know of people with those names. A longer, unusual surname with a common christian name for example, would make it seem like the character has an interesting family background, who have fallen from grace (depending on what the name was obviously). Double-barrel names often make it sound like the character is posh or rich, and shorter ones often do the opposite. A common name would allow the reader to familiarise with the character, and an exotic one might build intrigue, letting people know that the character is from another culture. Job-based names as described above by Ungood are more of a symbol of lower class people, especially in England. I hope that's helpful.
     
  4. Michael Davis
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    Michael Davis Member

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    Here's what I do:

    1. There are numerous databases of names aligned with themes (most used, spanish, Jewish, etc).

    2. Decide what background/heritige the hero will have

    2. Pick several first and last names from the database and say them outload. DO they work together, sound good, convey the image you have in your head of the character.

    I Think I listed some on the link pages to the databases on my site (Davisstories.com), if not do a google search on surname ancestry database and that should do it.
     
  5. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Well... There can't be MUCH surname variation in my fantasy story. Its located in a place named The Greylands, which is divided into four: Lonelands, Woodlands, Highlands and Boglands. But all of these are surrounded by an enormous forest named Faerie Forest, so no one has ever leaved The Greylands. In my story I tell the reader that, when men expanded their horizons, the creatures of myth and legend fled our kin, traveling to the Faerie Forest because of its abundant sources of... something (haven't come up with anything) So I describe the place as real. I want my surnames to have the same effect like Sackville, Baggins and Proudfoot.
     
  6. fantasywriter
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    fantasywriter Contributing Member

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    If it's fantasy, I usually come up with surnames that match my character's background or class. For example, if I have a warrior character I usually come up with names that match their class: Sharpsword, Ironshield, Steelbearer, ect. If it's a wizard, try a surname like . . . Spellsword, or some such thing.

    If you're looking for names that reflect your character's background, I always like surnames that end in 'bane', such as Dragonbane, Ogresbane, Orcsbane, Bloodbane. Just come up with something. Other names that come to mind are Dragonheart, Farthorn, Tallowfall, Shadowstrike, or Darkblade. I usually just put two words together, depending upon their heritage, background, or class. It just comes naturally for me.

    Hope that helps. :-D
     
  7. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    You could always try to rearrange the letters in the character's first name to make a surname.
    I did it in one story: MC's name is "Eredin", and his surname is "Ederin".
     
  8. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    lol, I have comprised a list over the years of first and last names I heard on passing and thought were interesting. That's usually where I get a lot of my names from, especially surnames, because they're a lot more difficult than first names. Depending on the story, I sometimes even just make one up that sounds/looks real.

    Another thing, I usually try to make the surname relate to the character in a way. Like if it's a "bad" character, their surname would say something subtle about their character. I'm trying to think of an example of mine, but I'm really sleepy right now so I can't, lol.

    IMO, it's really important the first and last name (and possible middle name) sound fluid. If it doesn't sound okay pieced together, it just shouldn't be the name of a character.
     
  9. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Go with things like: Southington, Northington, Westington, Eastington, just to get a feel for things.
     
  10. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    I guess I'll make some research on British surnames, I think that might help me. Then I'll break some surnames' prefixes. As Ungood suggested, I found out -ton is a surname prefix. Well, thanks!
     

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