Last week at my Saturday writer’s group, we had a discussion about character names. One of our people is taking her first crack at fantasy, and one of the questions I had for her was whether or not she intended to change the plain Jane names she was using in her drafts. She was, she said, but was unsure of how to go about choosing fantasy names. This lead to a discussion on the different techniques for choosing character names, and how consistency within each universe is important.
Here are some naming themes you could use for your next story.
- Real World Alternatives. These types of names are pretty straight forward, change a few letters around, add a suffix or prefix or mesh two names together. These names are perfect for a fictional world that resembles our own, or in worlds where you don’t want the fantasy focus to be in the typical places. An added bonus is that these types of names will have a fresh feel while not being tongue twisters.
- Anagrams. Creating an anagram of a name or character quality (or even both) is another way to go, especially if you want the name to have certain sounds. You might try this online anagram creator. Although I plugged several names in and didn’t get anything, I tried several phrases or two-word names with better results. Taking the letters to actual paper is another alternative.
- Using Dead Languages. This is my preferred method, primarily because a lot of my fantasy takes place in a spin of a previous era. Languages like ancient Greek and Latin are quite beautiful, and when you go this route you have the added bonus of some word roots being familiar to your readers, which could translate into less exposition.
Even if following a theme doesn’t float your boat, there are some additional conventions to consider when creating names. Continue reading