1. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

    Feb 6, 2019
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    How do you make cool names?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Accelerator231, Jan 4, 2021.

    I'm not only referring to names as characters. I also mean stuff like those cool little acronyms that have that fitting and ingenious little meanings behind them. And names for things like cyborgs. Like the word HITMark. A name from Mage the Ascension. It's distinctive. Its similarity to the word 'hitman' really tells you what they're meant for. How do you get a nice and fitting name for a castle, or a corps of superhuman warriors, or whatnot?
  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

    Sep 9, 2019
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    The White Rose county, UK
    Mostly they just occur to me. I run a few funky sounding syllables through my head until something clicks.

    It helps to read a lot, to gather and internalise the kinds of names you like, which you can subconsciously pull out of a hat and modify.

    That implies my names are recycled versions of other people's names, which they aren't - they're inspired by, not copies of.
    Cave Troll likes this.
  3. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

    Mar 18, 2015
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    The majority of the time a "cool" name, is more about conveying an idea or theme that is representative of whoever it is attached to. Using your own example, it's about conveying things to the audience. In a setting, I'm working on, the villains have an intelligence organisation called The Cenburint. Now, it's a fantasy setting , so made up words slide by the readers pretty easily, but not knowing what the name of an intelligence organisation means is generally a pretty good idea. While a lot intelligence organisations in real life are purely acronyms, that didn't quite fit the tone I was going for, but I wanted something relatively short. Preferably 3 syllables as well known intelligence organisations tend to be 3 letter acronyms e.g CIA, MI5, KGB, FBI. As for why I chose Cenburint, Central Bureau of Intelligence.
  4. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2020
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    Take a real word, switch it backwards. Take two relevant words, smash 'em together.

    Or just make something/one cool and their name will automatically become cool.
    Not Sure and J.T. Woody like this.
  5. Reece

    Reece Senior Member

    Feb 20, 2019
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    For character names, I feel like this is a slippery slope. Nothing makes me cringe faster than ultra F'aNt-aSy names. I like normal names slightly tweaked or just more obscure currently existing names. For stuff/places, I like names that are inspired by the surroundings or utility.
    Not Sure likes this.
  6. Lazaares

    Lazaares Contributor Contributor

    Apr 16, 2020
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    I write a story set within a largely Germanic culturespace - thus I don't have to be creative with names.

    Everything is just a definition mashed together. Be recruited by the Land-army (Landeswehr) or visit the city-where-you-can-cross-the-river-Arne (Arnefurt). A tax office handling nobility? Mash it together into noble-tax-office (Adelsteueramt or ASA).

    I really don't like fantasy-sounding names; I tend to have a hard time figuring out how they are supposed to be pronounced (and just roll with my own butchered versions).
    Lifeline likes this.
  7. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

    Feb 5, 2018
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    Like what @GraceLikePain said, i take real words and warp them. Actually, i take Greek and Latin words more often then not, and create something based on those for my alien creatures.
    For planets, even though our solar system is ripe with Greek and Roman names, i name my planets after characteristics. For example, i already established that planets are sold to the highest bidder. The second most important planet that i write about is called Tienne (based on Tien, a japanese word for "money").

    The main planet where the story takes place, the root word is "dia-", which, depending on the language, means "day" or "god". Both are important because this planet is a desert planet where the inhabitants worship a sun god.
  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

    Aug 8, 2015
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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Like most things, I just fiddle around with letters until something sounds good to the
    old earballs. :) Sometimes it may not always work, or I come up with something that
    nobody can seem to pronounce, even though they are simple spellings.
    Or with some that are fun to say, cause they roll off the tongue and are pleasing to the
    ear, like Prionya from my new WIP. :)
    Sure I still have my stock alike names from other stoires like Dave and Steve, but I
    everybody does at some point. Cause the names aren't what make the characters more
    interesting, but what they do and how they do them.

    As for acronyms or organization names, they all kinda come off as kinda mundane.
    Sometimes keeping things simple is more effective, so the reader isn't drowned in
    trying to remember a bunch of complicated features, and has to keep track of the
    list of companies, platoons, units, orgs, and on and on. Kinda takes away from the
    story when you have to refer to a the glossary just to keep the story straight. :p

    Think of it like music, you have riffs, rhythms, solos, etc.
    The more you add the more it muddles up the whole thing until you have one big
    wall of notes and something that sounds more like noise than actual music.
    (Unless your cup of tea is listening to NoiseCore, or some other Anti-music genre). :D
  9. Shannon Davidson

    Shannon Davidson Member

    Jan 4, 2021
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    Mine tend to be organic--they just come to me. Sometimes a character shows up without a name, and they tell me who they are quickly by introducing themselves to another character. One name I developed over a few days after I saw the word "Trux" on the side of a truck. That name became Chandler Trux. Liked the sound of it and so I saved it until the character showed up without a name. Turned out to be a girl. Made it cooler.

    Most of my character's names mean something. For example, Kylian Weir is one of my main characters. His name literally means defender of the faith or defender of the gods. I knew I wanted his name to be Cylian, but people had a hard time knowing it was a hard "C" so I used a different spelling. I came up with his last name organically, then discovered later it's a real word and that it means to dam or defend. Kylian refers to one who is spiritual, and together, they mean defender of the gods. Pretty happy about that because that's what he becomes in the story.

    I also go down name lists for inspiration, or use character name generators to start the process. Sometimes I find a word or name that sounds pretty good, but isn't perfect until I change the spelling then pair it with an awesome surname.

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