Day 3: Names

Time for Day 3 of 30 Days of Writing About Writing ~

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How do you come up with names for characters and places?

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Research, and a lot of it. I’ll spend hours on websites like Behind The Name and Baby Names World, trying to find the perfect name or start of a name. I usually have four sets of criteria: meaning, origin, time period, and sound. I’m usually only meaning-centered for my important characters/places, or characters that serve as a symbol. Origin and time period kind of go hand-in-hand, as most origins have a specific time period. In God-Chosen, I went for BTN’s ‘ancient,’ or ‘mythological’ names for most demons, choosing origins like Sanskrit, Norse, Scandinavian, or even Latin for my ‘younger’ old characters (Lucian, for example). For human characters, however, I chose more common names, such as Ethan and Noah.

Sound is an entirely different issue. Amara is vowel-heavy, making the name sound elegant. Ending in an A also gives her a softer impression. Lucian and Lucas end in consonants, giving them stronger impressions. However, the N is a stronger vowel than the S, giving Lucian the heavier end of the stick. Sometimes I find a name whose origin, time period, and meaning all fit, but I don’t particularly like the sound. That’s when I take the name and alter it to better suit the character, such as Sirúnna from Sigrún. Another option is to combine names, but I do that only rarely.

I’ll also note connotation here, specifically with Lucian. Lucian… Lucifer? All intentional.

I follow the same basic ideas for places, though I rely more heavily on sound. Ak’nor and Dras-Lokh, for example, are sound-based names with little to no deeper meaning. Sol-Kolnor and Cahn-Abél, on the other hand, are more meaning-based. Sol-Kolnor means “Shadow of the Sun,” with Sol being sun, and Kolnor, from Japanese ‘kage,’ being shadow [of the]. Cahn-Abél is my adaptation of Cain and Abel. In the Bible, Cain and Abel were Adam and Eve’s sons. Cain killed Abel out of jealousy, and God then banished him. I thought this would be a nice parallel to Sol-Kolnor and Dras-Lokh, the two main continents of Cahn-Abél.

Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel by Felipe Mercade, courtesy coromandal.wordpress.com

That was a tad long-winded. How do you come up with your names?

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Tomorrow’s question: Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!
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About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on September 12, 2010, in Ishy Writes! and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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