1. Paladin92
    Offline

    Paladin92 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    United Kingdom

    How is best to approach naming your cities, towns etc when writing fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Paladin92, Feb 20, 2016.

    I was just wandering what everyone's opinions are when it comes to creating names for the cities and various locations within your fantasy world. I have the plot outline and character arcs set in place and ready to go, but really need to do work on the world itself when it comes to both the landscape of the world as well as the names for the locations. Any ideas that could help me along the way?
     
    Seraph751 likes this.
  2. bossfearless
    Offline

    bossfearless Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2014
    Messages:
    137
    Likes Received:
    50
    One of the easiest ways to name a place is by its function. There's a pair of port towns in my world, for example. One is called Lordsport, the other Navisport. One is where the nobility kept their private harbors, and the other is where the navy built its dry docks. Coaltown, Clock Cove, Scoundrel's Rest, Blackmart, Westfield, Mercado. The list goes on of names you could pull out of the main industry for a place. Just because you're writing fantasy doesn't mean that everything has to be Spine Fang Doom Mountain. In fact, avoid anything that sounds like it could work in WoW or DnD.
     
    Seraph751 likes this.
  3. halisme
    Online

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    682
    It depends on the level of fantasy. If its low, look at real life naming conventions, the suffixes 'mouth, field and port are really common. If its high, try to come up with some common suffixes and prefixes for each group.
     
  4. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    848
    Likes Received:
    932
    Location:
    SC, USA
    I tend to think about the history of the place and the culture that lives there. If you have distinct cultures, try to make sure that their names don't seem interchangeable. If not, you have a little more leeway with variety because there's nothing in-universe to judge the names against.

    Who founded the town and for what reason? Did it start as a trading post? Maybe its name references that in some way. Did something historically important happen there? Maybe it's named after that event. What do the people who live there value? What do they make/export? Are there any prominent features of the land nearby - ie is next to a massive mountain, a well-known lake, a canyon, in a forest? Maybe it's near a monastery or shrine. Or, maybe it's just named after whoever settled there first.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,922
    Likes Received:
    5,458
    I agree that functional/vocabulary word names solve a lot of the problem--they're both easier to come up with, and I find them more realistic than names that make me suspect that the author put some consonants and vowels in a bag and shook it.
     
  6. Paladin92
    Offline

    Paladin92 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    Thanks guys. Will take into consideration what all of you have said. Have been looking through the maps on all the fantasy books I own to try and spot a trend and for the most part the maps appear to coincide with the idea of naming things based on the location and function of the location. Also have thought that considering there are Greek mythological creatures in the world I'm creating I can use those creatures names in specific locations where there is an abundance of them to help fill in some of the gaps I currently have.
     
  7. Caterwaulings
    Offline

    Caterwaulings Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    California
    What sort of naming conventions are you using for your characters? I think that would be a good way to look at it. For example, if you are primarily using Germanic names then you could do a twist on German words.
     
  8. Paladin92
    Offline

    Paladin92 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    My POV characters are called Roth, Valen, Tamea, Shyjana, and Galab. Not sure if they together have a specific sound that links them to a geographical location or not as I choose them without consideration of where the names sound like they may originate
     
  9. Caterwaulings
    Offline

    Caterwaulings Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    California
    Gotcha. When I last did a fantasy that involved original names (I am guessing yours are?) I took bits of the sounds to create the name locations. For example:

    Anaii
    Menae
    Thob

    I hope that helps a little!
     
  10. Revilo87
    Offline

    Revilo87 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2014
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    14
    Several High Fantasy authors use ordinary naming conventions and create their own unique names in their works.

    For instance, in Tolkien's works we come across several simple names such as "Goblin Town" and "The Misty Mountains," yet also come across names like "Lothlorien," "Rohan," "Anduin," and many more such as "Gondor and Mordor" which share the suffix "dor" denoting "land of"

    I think if you are writing a high fantasy, use the more creative and unique names for older locations, such as the name of kingdoms and their capitals, some of which may be centuries old, and save the common style names for new locations such as a trading outpost or a new port city.
     
  11. Lifeline
    Offline

    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    1,392
    Likes Received:
    1,544
    Location:
    UK - the place betwixt and between
    Hint: Read up on climate zones and why they are where they are, with respect to distance to the sun, axial tilt, and atmospheric composition ;)
     
  12. Seraph751
    Offline

    Seraph751 If I fell down the rabbit hole...

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2016
    Messages:
    555
    Likes Received:
    372
    Location:
    Texas
    One of my locations is based on some of the phenomena that occurred after a war combined with what had happened to the losing side.
     
  13. King_Horror
    Offline

    King_Horror Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2016
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    38
    Location:
    Somewhere in the U.S.A.
    Now if a town/city is an important one, I'll take my surname, and morph it into a town.

    Ex: Johnstown, Parok, or Roygalis are all names I've came up with. I've also seen the posts above me, they speak the truth. What I'm suggesting is that you could use part of your name, and add a suffix or prefix. It's what I do, but that's just me. I wish you luck in your story, and I hope your character arcs go great. :)
     
  14. Cave Troll
    Online

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,762
    Likes Received:
    2,394
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Well not Fantasy, but fictional none the less. I use Greek when I name cities based on Mars, mainly due to the fact that a lot of the Martian mapping is in Greek. But hey come up with something fun to say, and if you like added fun make it in another language (real or made up). Have fun and irony is also a fun thing to play around with. :p
     
  15. terobi
    Offline

    terobi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    280
    Likes Received:
    212
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    Naming towns is an interesting one, you can get quite a lot of history across just with the names of places.

    In general though, if you're going with a fictional language, think about what the attributes of those places are and whether they might share name elements.

    Here's a list of UK placename elements with examples of use - you can see how in many places the name has a meaning, both in terms of history (pretty much anything in the UK which ends with "-chester", "-cester" or "-caster" started life as a Roman fort, while anything that ends in "-kirk" was likely a monastery under Norse rule) and in terms of geography.

    Similar lists exist for other languages, but most follow similar schemes. Perhaps thinking of your placenames as compounds like this will help?
     
  16. X Equestris
    Offline

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2015
    Messages:
    514
    Likes Received:
    304
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    For me, each of my cultures has an analogue that I borrow people names from and use the language to construct place names that generally fit the culture.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
  17. zoupskim
    Offline

    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2015
    Messages:
    648
    Likes Received:
    521
    In my scifi story there's a lot of European style names, places, and people due to the people being influenced by their European history. With my fantasy story I came up with all the history, but it is all based on real cultures, so the names reflect. An example is how in Roman culture it was common for someone's name to change based on their rank, station, or accomplishments. I do this with the cities of one of the kingdoms in my fantasy story, the larger city having a glorious name reflecting it's history and affluence.

    What us your setting, or perhaps the theme of your story?
     
  18. Kayla Hicks
    Offline

    Kayla Hicks New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2016
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    6
    As far as the world and surroundings go it really depends on your plot and the fantasy. Are you on another version of earth, past or present, did something happen to the world your character is in, or are you on another planet altogether? For the city names I had problems with that myself. I tried thinking of what they stood for or symbolized or I would take a name from an existing place and mash it with another to amek something sensible and new
     

Share This Page