1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I can't make decent fantasy names.

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Link the Writer, Oct 5, 2009.

    I'm planning on writing a stand-alone children's book for my first try about a girl entering a fantasy world through a swamp (do not ask) and she enters a fantasy world ruled by an OCD king. (I should note here that these aren't elves. This is a race I made up entirely.)

    The problem is, I think I suck at writing fantasy names. Here's a small example:

    Ex-King Murien III (He was king, but he died so Ishim took over)
    Queen Zurie
    King Ishim II (He's the OCD king. It's a humorous children's book with a bit of drama in it)
    Prince Hizion

    And for the nobles (the story takes place in a castle. Yeah, I know, the nobles usually have a plot of land of their own):

    Sir Gregreo Valmorn
    Lady Levola Valmorn
    Akeshia Valmorn
    Kiuka Valmorn

    Sir Amaut Brokenquill
    Lady Miyana Brokenquill
    Hernan Brokequill
    Kenthew Brokenquill
    Aramna Brokenquill

    See, what I do is basically take a few words, jumble them up together, rearrange letters or group them together to form new names and some are...a bit more crazier than others, plus, some of them resemble real-world names or sound like they should belong to another group of people (See Kiuka or Hizion).

    Any tips on how to properly make fantasy names? Thanks.
     
  2. WMMorgan
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    WMMorgan Member

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    I like "Valmorn" and "Brokenquill", though "Brokenquill" could use a second look, as it's a tad unwieldy when spoken aloud.

    My hunch is it's some of the first names that are throwing us off. "Kenthew" and "Hernan" sound okay--new but with a familiar structure. "Miyana" isnt bad. The others are alien-sounding or, at best, foreign-ish.

    My advice is to just keep trying until you get names that sound right and that you know sound right.
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I personally don't see anything wrong with those names except for Kenthew, which is not that easy to pronounce, and maybe Aramna. Foreign-ish isn't a bad thing in my opinion as long as they aren't too awkward to pronounce.
     
  4. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Is it some kind of rule that fantasy writers can't use names from this world?

    Am I doing something wrong with naming my main character in a fantasy novel James? Am I doing something wrong by naming the Prince he has to assassinate Andrew?

    I don't think I am...

    Why can't we just name using names from our world?

    Not that you can't make up your own names, but I'm just throwing it out there that I don't think it's that important to make completely weird (to my eyes) names JUST because it's fantasy.
     
  5. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    as far as I can tell there are no rules with fantasy names, for better or worse, its one genre thats very open to invented names(along with SF)

    Conan of "Conan the Barbarian" fame is a celtic name, its just not the most common one so it may sound exotic

    same with Bran Mak Morn, another Robert E Howard creation, totally celtic

    Many of the names in the Lord of the Rings saga are old English derived

    (Eowyn - "horse delight", along with many Rohirrim names and the language itself was Old English inspired)

    Uh, when it comes to fantasy that's periord based Im totally in my prime, because Im an ancient history buff. Whenever I have to "make up" a name I usually resurrect one that has been dead for centuries or longer. It usually works for me.

    I personally do not like making up names because they have a tendency to sound artificial, and why make up one that means nothing when history is littered with examples of names that have evocative meanings.

    (The name Michael - Mikha-el, for example, seems mundane and common but is a bastardization of an ancient Hebrew name that means "one who is like God")

    Many common names have funny sounding translations:

    Philip=horse lover

    Maldonado=bad donation

    Jehovah=messed up traslation of Yahweh/YHWH because ancient semetic languages had no vowels or "j" sounds

    Jesus= messed up translation of Yeshua, same as above

    Sean=Celtic John

    MacDonald=anglecized version of gaelic "Mac Dhomhnuill"


    see how funny names can be?


    When I crack open a new fantasy novel and is has a lame drawing of some silly map with corny names it makes me cringe and close the book. Im just too familiar with such a wide variety of names that made up ones are transparent and dull to me.

    ...sorry, thats just me




    My suggestion would be that instead of making up names investigate and explore other cultures to find real names that the average public has little knowledge of, at the very least it will be a funny story for the press release of your new novel


    For example, I needed a dwarf name for my Dungeons and Dragons character. Dwarves are scandinavian in origin, but I didnt want to give him a typical norse name, so I played a little trick on the dungeon master. Little do most people know that Hindi and modern german are both part of the Indo-European or "Aryan" langauge group.

    Vikram son of Aran sounds very scandinavian but it is actaully of Sanskrit origins, and so far no one has been the wiser;)
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not entirely true. The vowels just aren't always written, and some of the letters to double as vowels at times.
     
  7. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Google "star wars name generator" and click the second link. It'll give you as many crazy fantasy names as you can handle.
     
  8. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    I wrote a fantasy story a while back and the protagonist was named Sam. It turned out well, shockingly. Names are not the most important things, though I admit that a decent one is far better than the lackadaisical pick. My point is to not get too caught up in the names, the story is waiting for you :)

    Good luck either way. I like Aramna.
     
  9. Nackl of Gilmed
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    Nackl of Gilmed Member

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    Real names are perfectly acceptable too. Raymond Feist often uses real names (Jimmy the Hand, anyone?), as well as very-slightly-altered versions of real names, like Arutha and Tomas.
     
  10. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    That is another thing I'm worried about. I'm rather fond of "Akeshia", "Kenthew", "Gregreo", and "Levola" but if they are difficult to pronounce, then that can detract from the story as readers will have to stop every time the names appears and try to prounounce them.

    Although, I can see where y'all are coming from. Maybe I can tweak Kenthew's name a bit, although I personally think it's easy to prounounce.

    I was thinking that maybe my fantasy kingdom can be loosely based off of the Ottoman Empire in terms of culture and dilect. One thing is because the Western world honestly knows more about the Celts than the Ottoman IMO, and another thing is that-

    Erm, I know this is probably a dumb question but suppose I do that...would I have to make my king a sultan as they had a sultan or am I free to do otherwise?
     
  11. Nackl of Gilmed
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    Nackl of Gilmed Member

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    I suppose that depends on how strong the association is going to be in the mind of the reader. As a (very obvious) example, if you had characters called Aladdin and Jafar, then sultan would sound better to a reader than king.
     
  12. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If course you're free to do whatever the heck you want. It's not real.
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    You can look into names of flowers, plants, trees, etc.
     
  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Of course. :p Thank you, everyone.

    I'll just brainstorm fantasy names and throw away those that do not sound right (Like "Hizion" for instance).

    Oh, and Rei? I'm so sigging this.
     
  15. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Consider keeping them simple, distinct and easy to pronounce. I know that alot of readers hate complex fantasy names which you can neither pronounce or remember or tell apart.

    Example: Twxn'thullcth'nilmnu'fann, prince of the Elves...
     
  16. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Good point, Horus. The last thing you want to do is scare your readers away by opening your novel with something like:

    Supercalifragilisticexpialidocius looked up at the sky and sighed.
     
  17. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    lolololol

    I lol cos I see it all the time!:p
     
  18. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, you do have to be reasonable and keep in mind the needs of the readers. You can do whatever you want, but it does need to readable.
     
  19. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    You're free to do as you wish. I'm certain a few people who read it will be offended, but they're looking for a reason to get angry. If you want a sultan, make a sultan. Just remember that you're the writer.
     
  20. WhispWillow
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    WhispWillow Contributing Member

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    While not all fantasy characters have to have stand out names, it is good to have more different names here and there, for example, giving a human name for a goblin might not really work e.g Ted, it would just seem out of place for a Goblin.


    What I did was a bit of mix and match. For place names I gave it a good think about it before I was happy with it and could proceed on. If it doesn't sound right to you, then just keep on trying take your time.
    However, from looking at your op, you do have some creative names in there, so you defintely are capable!

    What I have done from time to time also was look at the dictionary from time to time to try and get some inspiration for names from less well known words. For one character I found a word which I thought suited his personality and it also sounded good.

    Hope this helps :)
     
  21. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    Personally I use names from an ancient culture (e.g. Norse / Roman / Celtic / Babylonian / Egyptian / etc...) or plant/animal (or even mineral) names to an extent - or combine them. Clearly it depends on the feel of your story - a desert story starring Bjorn Wolfaxe is going to grate.

    BTW, I would immediately want to find out more about "Ted the Goblin" - it kind of appeals to me :)
     
  22. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    You're abosolutely right, Irish87. Although I do have this obsession with not wanting to offend EVERYONE, even though that's not really possible.

    Take, for example, an idea I had about a mystery series set in 1850s South. I worry that someone's gonna look at it and think I'm a racist because my book has slaves in it and I'm a southern, even though the book has nothing to do with slavery, just basically leaving that in the background unless I needed it.

    I mean, you know all the swear words they called the slaves? I'm afraid of writing even that because the last thing I need is to have people turn what was a nice mystery story set in pre-Civil War south into a book implying that I want slavery reinstated (even though I sure as hell do NOT want it back) or that I'm racist or that I'm painting slavery in a good light or...

    See?

    Anyway, I've gotten my own thread off topic. I'll take another look at the names and revise them.
     
  23. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Stop worrying about that, seriously. People who want to be offended will be offended by anything. If you tiptoe around prudes, your writing will just be prudish itself, and then someone else might become offended at that.

    You can't please everyone, while in trying to do so you'll surely displease yourself.

    Personally, I'd take it as a huge compliment if I had my work published and some group of people started protesting in the streets. It would mean I left an impression!
     
  24. Kahlem
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    Kahlem New Member

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    Some people are oversensitiveness about little things. If you're not writing racism to be racist, but because the characters in your book are, that's all right. People just need to learn to make the line between books, especially historical fiction books, and real life.
     
  25. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    You and Horus have great points. Although the MC and his slave-owning family treat the slaves decently (and the MC hates slavery, but he doesn't speak out), I shouldn't be afraid to include a few racist characters.
     

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