1. Midnight_Adventurer
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    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

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    Name some surnames

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Midnight_Adventurer, May 9, 2011.

    Hi everyone,

    I've finally been able to admit to myself that I need a little help. Usually I don't struggle with names; I have a "system" that works well enough. But it doesn't seem to be working this time.
    My two characters Lorelie (Lorie) and Theodore (Theo) are lacking surnames. I've searched through heaps of websites, but I've become too frustrated with the problem and need some fresh suggestions.
    At the moment Lorie actually has two temporary surnames.
    Lorelie LaBell
    Lorelie Hale
    I actually don't mind LaBell, but she'll have soooo many L's in her name and I'm wondering if it sounds too...fancy or something. I’ve have nothing for poor Theo :(

    So if any of you know of some surnames that would suite my characters please let me know, I'd really, really appreciate the help. :redface:
    Thanks,
    Bree
     
  2. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    We can't tell you what surnames would suit your characters just like that... Where are they from? Where is their ancestry from? What do you want to convey through your surnames? I'm a firm believer that just about every decision an author makes should have some reason or another, so, even though it's fine to choose names willy-nilly (the reason being "I liked the sound of it"), I prefer to give them some meaning.
     
  3. eMotive-
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    eMotive- Member

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    I agree with Arathald, it makes reading the book a whole lot juicier when surnames have meaning.
     
  4. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Another approach, depending on what kind of relationship you have with your characters: ask them their surname. Maybe they already know it, and you just have to find it out. Yes, writers are all off our rockers. I think it's a prerequisite for being able to write.
     
  5. AvihooI
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    AvihooI Member

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    I think depending on the era that your characters take place in, you can name them based on all sorts of things.

    I guess the most prevalent causes for a surname are occupation, tribal/familial orientation and acquired feats (whether those feats were acquired by them or their parents). Also, if your story distinguishes between commoners and nobility, I'd guess that has an impact on convention as well.

    In the story I'm currently writing, personal names are indeed whatever-sounds-good. If you think about it, that's practically the way parents name their children. However, surnames have to relate to something else. Nobles in my story would have an extension "of [name of fief]". If a person is called Jeremy and he's a lord of Wessex (not necessarily the landlord, could be a son, grandson or niece of the actual landlord) then his name could be Jeremy of Wessex. By convention, he could be called Jeremy Wessex. Moreover, he can have additional middle names based on other things, such as his mother's maiden name, etc...

    In fantasy, you could randomly generate names. But the rule remains, first names are chosen by parents who thought the name sounded good. Middle and surnames are related to something else, either inherited or acquired.
     
  6. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Many parents put a little more thought into it than this. Many people are named after someone else, and many other people's names are chosen because they have a particular meaning to them. This is especially true of Western "Christian names", and of Eastern Asian names; through the early 20th century, a parent would seldom choose a name with complete disregard to its meaning or historical value, and even now, parents often aren't quite so careless with name choice.

    If your only criterion is that the name has to sound good, why not add just a touch more depth to your character by picking a name that fits him or her, as well (either based on its meaning, or because of an ancestor).

    For what it's worth, two of my characters, brothers, have names that, as far as they know, their parents just liked the sound of, though one is more closely tied to their ancestral homeland. Regardless, their names do fit them like a glove, and I didn't choose the names at random. I suspect their parents didn't actually either, but I don't know this for certain.

    Well, yes, you could. You could also pick a name that means something in your fantasy world. Randomly generated names are sometimes very easy to pick out -- they look like someone just pulled them out of a hat (I wanted to say something else here). Again, if you have the choice, why not give your character's names meaning?


    By the way, it's not just that you might want to look into meaningful, rather than random, names, but from the sparse information you gave us, you may as well type "common surnames" (sans quotes) into your favorite search engine and sort through what comes up. We're not here to replace that search engine, so you need to give us a better idea of what you're looking for so we can provide suggestions that will do better than that simple search.
     
  7. AvihooI
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    AvihooI Member

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    I did not say parents are careless about naming their children. I simply stated that parents choose the first name of their children because they like it (for the sound, the meaning, etc...). That is in contrast to surnames which are nowadays inherited and in earlier times were affected by all sorts of factors.
     
  8. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    No, but you did say that they name their children just whatever sounds good to them, which I would say is fairly careless. The point being, I think authors should put some thought into their character's names. If you choose not to, that's your business, but justifying saying that most parents don't isn't valid. And as authors, we can choose last names just as arbitrarily as we can first names, so, while the considerations may be different, the same kind of care should be put into both.

    It took me a lot of thought and research to come up with my character's names. A clear sign to me that I may have just picked a filler name or a name at random is anything starting with the letter J. These are names I'll go back through and make sure I've thought through thoroughly. I actually happen to know that my characters aren't very happy if they don't have a decent realisic name that fits them, so maybe that's why I spend a decent bit of time on their names.
     
  9. Jessica_312
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    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

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    I also agree with this. I often resort to Google to choose names I "like" (google based on time period/region, etc), but when I narrow down to names I like, that roll off my tongue, that seem fitting to the character, I then do a bit of research into their meaning to figure out if it truly fits my character. Or sometimes, I already have a name picked out in my head. For example, in my current story, my heroine's last name is Griffin, and I chose that name for a reason - Griffin being the mythological eagle/lion hybrid, often thought to be powerful and guarding precious things (ties into my story heavily)....
     
  10. Midnight_Adventurer
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    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

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    Hi everyone!

    Thank you for all your help, I would've replied sooner but I had a power outage last night and I was left logged on, oops!

    I totally agree with everything you've all said, especially Arathald. Naming characters is extremely important to me, that's why it's taking me so long. I believe that a character’s name is the first insight into what a characters going to be like, that's why I think of a name and then form the character. I'm actually doing some character profiling so I can clearly workout who Lorie and Theo are and hopefully complete their names. I already have some ideas!

    Thanks again :)
     

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