There is a question I have often seen on forums: How do you name your characters? I personally have never had an issue with naming characters but I would say that is because I know how. Everyone has their different methods for coming up with names. So, in this instalment of 'Guide to Fantasy Writing' I'll be talking about how I come up with character names for your ordinary characters and your more out-of-this-world character.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".
My number one tip for coming up with character names is to look on baby name websites. You can search for hundreds of names on these sites until you find one that fits your image of your character. If you're like me, you can also search name meanings in order to find a meaning which matches your character. There is also the possibility of searching for names from a particular geographical origin, which you may be interested in if you are setting your story in a particular country.
If you don't want to name your characters using pre-existing, 'human', names then try mashing names together. Take a couple of names you like and try sticking together pieces of them. For example:
Take 'Sarah' and 'Ellie'
You could get: Sarlie, Rahel, Lierah, Elsarah etc.
The process is pretty fun too!
What I mean by 'Out-of-this-world' is completely fantastical. This includes creatures and aliens and strange races such as elves. You can use the technique mentioned above, mashing names together, to create some cool sounding fantasy names. Instead of joining existing names together however, you could join syllables together. This is almost the same process except that you just make up sounds. Ah, il, kah, der, bin, ley… it's endless. This is the process I used to come up with the name for my keer character, Ilyarahh (Il – Yah – Rah).
WARNING! When creating names by either joining existing names or using random syllables always make sure that a reader will be able to easily read the name. It can be very frustrating trying to read a name that doesn't easily flow. Make sure you can say it out loud and that it isn't too long. It may also be an idea to show a friend and see what they think.
However, depending on your personal preference you may choose to name them using descriptive words. For creatures this could be a good idea. For instance you could name a dragon character Wind Strider, Dancing Flame or Ashen Cloud. There are so many possibilities.
My last tip for creating names is to make sure your character's names are quite different. It gets confusing to read a novel where two characters names start with the same letter or sound similar.
Thanks for reading!
Scarlett Van Dijk
What names have you created?
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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