Naming Names and How to Make Them Count

I’ve had a number of questions posed which I’ve answered briefly with reply comments, but I’d like to take some of the questions and answer them in more detail. Maybe someone else has the same question, but didn’t know to look for the answer in the comments below!

Question of the day9

Today we’re going to tackle Phoenix Grey’s question:

. . . I really like the name Victara. Did you make the names up for your fiction? Or get them from somewhere? I’m curious.


I’ll just stop to mention my favorite site to visit when I’m struggling with names. I could spend hours here: Behind the Name. Of course, I also peruse all the other baby naming sites . . . and yes, my search history is odd. That’s only the half of it!

The characters’ names in my stories are a mixture of real names and made up ones. The following is just a sample of some of them:

Real names:

  • Ismene (means: knowledgeable; pronounced: Iss-meh-knee)
  • Bimala (means: pure; pronounced: Bi-mah-la)
  • Idra (means: fig tree; pronounced: i-dra (short i))
  • Simon (means: to be heard; pronounced: SI-mon)
  • Hanif (means: true, upright; pronounced: Ha-nif)
  • Ahmad (means: more commendable or most praised; pronounced: Ah-mahd)

Made Up:

Caityn is a modern name shortened by one letter. (Thanks Cherie! That was a tough one to mess with)

Theiandar is just totally made up.  I wanted his name to shorten to Theian (The-an, with a ‘th’ sound like that at the beginning of thistle), but it feels like Alexander. His nickname is Raz (which is a real name and means secret)

Victara is a combination of Victoria and Tara.

Marodan is a place which is a combination between words in a different language and a real name: Spanish-Mar (means: sea) + Odan– is a variation of Odin from Norse mythology (means: inspiration, rage, frenzy).

When it comes to naming in fantasy writing, my suggestion is use a combination of real ones and your own creations. Keep them simple (just 1-3 syllables maximum) unless it serves a purpose to have a long complicated name.


So, to make it simple, here’s a list of a few ways to create names for fantasy characters and places.

  1. Use exotic real names
  2. Remove a letter or two from a real name
  3. Add a letter or two to a real name
  4. Combine parts from two real names
  5. Combine words from different languages together or with parts of real names

Now, go have fun making up your fantasy world and characters!

Rachael Ritchey

And if you’re interested in reading The Beauty Thief, here are all the places you can find it!

Amazon USA — Amazon UK — Amazon France — Amazon Germany — Amazon India

Barnes & Noble — Smashwords — Kobo — iBook/iTunes Apple — CreateSpace

 


15 thoughts on “Naming Names and How to Make Them Count

  1. I love names, too! This is a great post, Rachael. I haven’t seen much blog discussion on character names either, so it’s nice to see someone addressing it.

    Your #5 is similar to the “naming” strategy I used for some of TKC’s characters. In the book’s world, the Faeries are given names that combine two or three words from their own language. And since some names are a little complex to pronounce (and I want to make things easy for the reader, too), the Faeries will shorten their full names into nicknames like this:

    Isonyeva > Eva
    Donitemiro > Doni
    Remigan > Remi
    Nitoyevisar > Nito

    Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Character Naming Sourcebook is also a fantastic reference for character names, as well as sidenotes from various authors on their character-naming “strategies.” If anyone’s interested, here’s the link: http://www.writersdigest.com/qp7-migration-books/wd-character-naming-sourcebook

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hi rachael, caught this post off a reblog by phoenixgrey so it’s my first time here.

    i’ve always had a hard time coming up with names. now though i try and have fun with the process and so far i like combining a real first or last name and then modifying or making up the other half. the real half grounds the name while the made up part lets me have a little fun, though i do make sure they connect. naming sites are great for this approach too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree completely! That’s a great addition to the list! Thanks for sharing, IndianMacgyver and thanks for making your way here! It’s lovely to have you. 🙂 I did have some fun with the fantasy and gamer naming sites, but a majority of the names were just a little to out there crazy for my stories. Lots of fun ones, though! 🙂 So nice to meet you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post for a much needed topic! I found Behind the Names, and love it too. It’s sooo much fun looking over the meanings of names in many different languages–I chose a few Norse and Arabian names this way 😉 I confess I’ve spent a lot of time doing this, claiming it as “research”, lol, instead of doing other things I knew I should be doing X)

    Liked by 2 people

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