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  1. MikeyC

    MikeyC Active Member

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    How do you name your towns and cities?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by MikeyC, Jul 18, 2018.

    In my last book, i got the idea for the town and range of mountains from my Sister....bless her!

    How do you do it? I really struggle.


    Rgds
     
  2. izzybot

    izzybot (unspecified) Contributor

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    Think of how real locations get their names. Who founded the city? Maybe it's named after them. Is it on a river or a hill? Maybe it's Riverside or Hilton. What do people do there that the town is known for? Maybe it's a logging town called Timber or a dairy farming town called Cowpens.
     
  3. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

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    It depends on the story. In my current one, I have entirely made up the names. I pick a "sound" I like, or a letter I want to start it with, and then go from there. Just whatever sounds convincing for the fictional world. In another one, from when I was younger, I gave everything Hawaiian words as names but tried to pick words that made sense. Another one had a French inspiration, where I looked at place names in France and played around with what I liked about those. And yet another had German and Eastern European inspirations. But this current one is 100% made up as far a names go. I even slipped in some backwards-spelt words for a few locations because they actually sounded good and fit with the "feel" of the country.
     
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  4. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    I make two lists. The first is words that I think sound pretty, or fit with my story, or whatever. The second list is every word I could think of to describe a town. AKA: Haven, Port, Fort, City, Town, Mount, Home, Rest, Hall, Hold, Hearth, Fell, Bane, Landing, Cliff, Heath, Bog, Perch, Keep, Field, Bridge, Ford.

    Then I combine them- one word from the first list and one from the second. Examples from my story: Amberfield, Gryphon's Rest, Ridersdawn, Wanderport, Thorncliff, Rosehold, Demonsreach, Shadowmarch, etc.
     
  5. saxonslav

    saxonslav Member

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    I look at my fictional languages and use izzybot's system.
     
  6. Night Herald

    Night Herald Malfunctioning clockwork person Supporter Contributor

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    Naming cities (towns are cool too, I guess) is one of my favorite aspects of worldbuilding. How I go about it depends on the story. I mostly write fantasy, but of different flavors. I do write some Sci-Fi and other things, but don't usually invent towns or cities for it. There's Neo Yorke, which is the setting for a weird Cyberpunk/Medieval Fantasy blend. Then there's the shantytown Gomorrah. I really didn't do much inventing here.

    The novel I'm currently working on is a frolicsome, almost farcical affair, and the names reflect that; uninspired, descriptive, top-of-my-head type stuff. Despite the galactic scope, there's only half a handful of named cities and towns: Midgard City (a city on Midgard, naturally; a great creative feat, you'll agree) Nexus (the megacity of many portals) and Darkton (it's pretty dark there, I guess).

    My other, more serious Fantasy setting is a different affair. The Rule of Cool is in effect, yes, but the names are tailored to reflect the various cultures. I kind of phoned it in with the first two cities I created (Throne and Sanctum) but I've grown attached to these monikers, and they do a great job of describing what's up with these places (Throne being the ancient capital of a fallen empire, and Sanctum being the only (significant) pocket of civilization in a hostile wilderness). There are towns called Brokenstone and Quarry and Oaken and such, in that same general geographic region, so this particular culture tends to go with no-nonsense, descriptive names. Elsewhere, things are more exotic, with cities being named in the half-formed conlangs I've got going on. Yatang, Gargosha, Sulemjemn, Ipseleth, Guleath, and Gaurung Dra are just some examples. Some are loosely based on real-work locations, or are homages to other fictional places. There's a lot of inspiration to be found in the real-world cities of past and present.
     
  7. Dragon Turtle

    Dragon Turtle Deadlier Jerry

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    I put in dumb placeholders and then cry when I discover them later during revision, mostly.
     
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  8. GlitterRain7

    GlitterRain7 Galaxy Girl Contributor

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    I pretty much just find the name of a town/city that exists somewhere in real life that I like and make sure there isn't any other towns/cities in the state that my story takes place with the same name (if applicable, because I figure at some point I'll write something serious where a state isn't referenced)
     
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  9. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    Someone on this forum suggested doing made up languages by adding or subtracting one letter (vowels intact? Don't remember) to existing words. I don't remember who, but the credit is to them and not me.


    New York (+1, vowels separate) = Pix Zusl.

    That one doesn't work very well, does it?^

    Chicago= Djodehu.

    That ain't horrible, sounds deserty/pseudo Arabic.

    Anyway, a thought.
     
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  10. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

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    That's an interesting method that I haven't heard of before. I have come up with some legit-sounding place names for my fantasy story by picking words and spelling them backwards. That's how I got "Ralos" (solar) for the name of the country, "Erif" (fire) for the Phoenix, and "Eldnik" (kindle) Peak for a mountain.
     
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  11. MikeyC

    MikeyC Active Member

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    Loving the ideas, thank you. Especially creating two lists, and combining them! That could work for lots of different scenarios.

    I read some of my early editions of my last book (The shadow grounds), some of the names i used were terrible! Even for characters. The first draft of the first chapter, i completely made up random character names. It read sooooo terribly and my dear parents said, 'This is based on the real world - ish, right? So why on earth is one of your characters called 'Kilo' and another 'Mer', why not go for normal sounding names?'

    And my main character 'Jay' was born lol


    Rgds
     
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  12. Dragon Turtle

    Dragon Turtle Deadlier Jerry

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    In one of my countries I named the two major cities after Merry and Pippin from Lord of the Rings.

    Meriadoc and Peregrin are really Tolkien's English "translations" of their canonical Westron names, which are Kalimac and Razanur. I corrupted these into Kalima and Rathuma and those became the city names.

    AND NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW. Except that I keep telling people.
     
  13. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

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    That's pretty cool! And I have to remember every time I read LotR that most characters' and places' names are actually just translations in-universe so that the in-universe people can read and understand it all. After all, it "technically" is supposed to be written by Frodo, just like The Hobbit (or, There and Back Again) was "technically" the account written by Bilbo. I love those neat little in-universe things Tolkien came up with. He's the world-building writer I wish I could aspire to be!
     
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  14. izzybot

    izzybot (unspecified) Contributor

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    This is one of the dorkiest things I've ever read :p
     
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  15. Dragon Turtle

    Dragon Turtle Deadlier Jerry

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    Hahahahah, I'm honored. :D
     
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  16. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke

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    My cities names tend to have a literal meaning. For example, the capital "city" of one of the races is called Mandto-Rioni, which literally means "Mountain of Darkness" in their language.
     
  17. WaffleWhale

    WaffleWhale Active Member

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    That somehow sounds both exceedingly lazy and really smart.
     
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  18. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

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    And that is why I only use that sparingly. :bigwink: It only encompasses a small number of place/figure names, and everything else is completely made up.
     

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