1. SarahN
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    SarahN Member

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    How do you come up with unusual names?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SarahN, Dec 26, 2008.

    I am trying to come up with some names of wizards/sorcerers/witches etc but am running into a brick wall.

    I have lead character names but they are normal English names, Gabriella, Sebastian, Frederick, MaryEllen. I am looking for something more unusual for their counterparts I have one idea so far Bastal, but not sure how much I really like it. Any suggestions for other names or ideas for coming up with unusual names would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. ZionsRodeVos
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    ZionsRodeVos New Member

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    I often go to a web site for Dutch names since my father is from Holland and Dutch names are not too common in the US.

    Or I simply put consonants and vowels together being sure to use some of the less common letters and work with it until I have something that sounds good too me.
     
  3. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why do some of your characters have normal names while others have unusual ones? Unless the unusual chars come from a different background or changed their name at some point, I don't see a reason for them to have a strange name. IMO, it's a trend in fantasy that is often taken too far.

    Of course this is totally up to the writer. There may be a good reason why these people have the names they have. I'm just saying don't throw in 'wierdness' where it isn't necessary.
     
  4. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree w/Anony Mouse about not putting weirdness in some of their names without a reason to explain it.

    I think Welsh names are quite odd; also, you could throw in non-European names to add flavor to it all...maybe some Hindu names or Slavic names or Tahitian names. That would be cool--but again, only if there was good reason for the variety of cultures in the story.
     
  5. SarahN
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    SarahN Member

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    There is a reason. Basically the plot is that a little girl and her brother have feirce magic powers and will someday rule the magical world together. There is a group that governs both the good and evil side of the magic world to maintain order and they decided that it was too dangerous for the children to grow up in that world so they were hidden in the mortal world. Two care takers - that they know as their parents, went with them to ensure their safety. The evil side has now found these two children and it goes on from there... What do you guys think?
     
  6. Asuran
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    Asuran Member

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    Well if that is your story, then I think you would want them to have anything but unusual names. It sounds like the group wants them to grow up normal, not knowing anything about their powers.
     
  7. SarahN
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    SarahN Member

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    Yes, however because they have been discovered the little girl is sent back to the magical world to learn to use the abilities she has. I did take some of the advice, I looked at some name sites and chose some names that are not common but are not unusual either. They are just not seen very often ex. Garden, Luc, Steffen, caden, and cordelia. That way it isn't completely out of no where.
     
  8. Spearnymph
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    Spearnymph Member

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    What I like to do is give the made-up world some background or influences from the real world. That way, you can take root words and make up your own names from there. In my opinion, if you're going to give names from another culture, they should have some link to that culture (even if it's only because they think said culture is cool).
     
  9. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Or you can take some awesome sounding syllables, put them together, and you got yourself an unusual name. Sometimes you'll find that the name you came up with is indeed unusual, but not entirely non-existent.
     
  10. Cestralisk
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    Cestralisk New Member

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    Bastal, from a Google search, indicates it to be a location and last name. It can be hard to find words that do not show up in some way on the internet and Googling a name isn’t perfect. I have been dismayed at realizing some names to be the same or similar as something…distasteful. That has not always persuaded me to change them since my library would then be very small and shrinking.

    If the name is taken from one or more words, to provide a meaning, I usually give it to a fitting character. Some words just sound sinister or pleasant to me and sometimes a name that has meaning just sounds awful or is hard to pronounce or remember.

    Does it have meaning?
    Is it easy on the eyes, tongue, and ears?
    Does it fit the character? (This applies to the background of the character which in turn may include culture/gender, biology, and world mechanics.)

    If a character is memorable then the name becomes associated with the character. If the name is memorable in a good or bad light by the reader for reasons outside the novel then the character may be viewed with unintended bias and the association of the name would be in conflict. I suppose that is where the skill of a storyteller, to win over the mind of the reader, comes in.

    First thing that comes to mind (for me) when thinking Bastal (before I googled it) was: Male – Corrupt. For some odd reason I thought to remove the last letter and add two others.

    Also you mentioned a magical world and mortal world. From this I suspect the children may be immortal. I don’t know how long it takes for these children to grow up. I can imagine something immortal in a fantasy setting taking eons to reach physical and/or mental maturity…so their real names might be rather ancient sounding, perhaps?

    Also I avoid fictional name sites and random name generators but the latter can be interesting. Random name generators are often part of MMORPGs but I bet there are standalone sites.
     
  11. Mr Vampyre
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    Mr Vampyre Member

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    Do all sorts.

    Take two names and smash them together:

    John Smith = Joith
    George Daniel = Geodan

    Jumble up some names:

    Michael = Alechim
    Andrea = Draena

    Add some titles:

    High Sorcerer Joith
    Grand Master Alechim
    Draena The Cruel

    Just have fun :)
     
  12. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I do not know if someone already said this but I take regular names and spell them backwards.

    Phillip = Pillihp
    Emma = Amme
    Janet = Tenaj
    Lisa = Asil

    As you can see it works better depending on the name. But when I am having trouble with names I do this or mash a male and female name together. Depending on order it can sound female or male.

    Rose + Mike = Roke
    Mike + Rose = Mise
    Jonathan + Melissa = Jonissa
    Melissa + Jonathan = Melithan

    I hope this helps
     
  13. Mr Vampyre
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    Mr Vampyre Member

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    You could also contact some celebrities and see what names they have stored for any future babies they might have...
     
  14. SarahN
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    SarahN Member

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    That is a great point spear, I really like that idea! I think I know exactly how I want to fit in the idea of different "cultures",and therefore the use of more exotic/uncommon names. Thank you all so much for your input!
     
  15. SarahN
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    SarahN Member

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    GREAT ideas!
     
  16. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Google "fantasy name generator." There are slews of sites that have good ones of various types. I think one of the good sites for such things is called Seventh Sanctum or something like that.
     
  17. othman
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    othman Member

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    I have never met nor heard of a MaryEllen though I did read one in a book that was written in the 1920s, Frederick is very much out of use nowadays, Gabriella's are very rare and so are Sebastian's. Seriously, if you want any common names that are English, actually talk to an englishman don't read some books that are over a century old.
     
  18. SarahN
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    SarahN Member

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    I didn't mean English as in from England, sorry if I confused or offended. I also didn't use books to come up with the names. They were actually names I thought about that I liked because they are less common but not unusual. They also seemed to fit the characters.
     
  19. Cestralisk
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    Cestralisk New Member

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    According to one Wikipedia page the name Sebastian it is not a rare name at all. The translation :eek: enticed me to look around for other sources of information and now I am unsure as to how rare or typical the name really is. Still, from my own wanderings, I have often heard the name used for unimportant fictional butlers.

    I figure an English name means it is commonly used in England while an American name means it is commonly used in the USA. If a name is commonly used in England, the USA, and let’s say Italy then I suspect it would be considered an English name, American name, and Italian name. The use of Latin letters is not a concern I am aware of since there is no language (to my knowledge) that cannot at least be phonetically translated with Latin letters. Therefore I am…confused. What is meant by English names that are not from England? :confused:
     
  20. SarahN
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    SarahN Member

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    I meant language not origin...
     
  21. Demief
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    Demief Member

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    Usually my names come from a prefix or something similiar. Many characters in my first attempt start with de- and then i add something on. My main character Demief (hence the username) was actually made up by me in a class one time in a group of four friends. We had to come up with a rap about a god (dont ask. Please dont ask) and the groups names were: declen, matthew, eoin and fergus. I put the names together and came up with Demief. Then i came up with loads of De's and Du's...and so on.

    So try putting names together or taking them apart. Works for me.
     
  22. Hetroclite
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    Hetroclite Member

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    Go to the library, look up foreign language books, then go thru the glossaries (in the back of each book), & take down words that sound interesting & have fitting meanings. I took down lists of words from language books of Latin, Anglo-Saxon, & Gaelic. So I have dozens of pages of cool sounding names & their meanings.

    Try writing certain words or names backwards. See how each looks & keep the ones that sound fitting to your story. I just finished a story, placed in ancient Egypt, in which I named one character Tsep-Met, backwards for "tempest", & another Nis, backwards for "sin".

    The world is your oyster, dude. Best wishes.
     

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