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What’s In A Name?

February 24, 2012

I have a confession: I never have trouble naming my characters. I don’t. Their names are usually the first part of their personality I create. Names pose no trouble for me. My co-author, though, agonizes over it or just lets me do the choosing. XD

I also don’t pay much attention to the names other authors use. Although, really, some of the names… I know authors want to be unique, but in a contemporary or historical novel, there are limits to the uniqueness of a name! And spelling. Holy hell, the way some people will choose to spell a name is a travesty. Judgmental, me? Nah.

Names can also be confusing to keep track of. My suggestion? Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are a boon, and they are an author’s best friend. I have one spreadsheet that contains all names I’ve used, where I’ve used them, and names I intend to use. I’m a collector of names, really. I see one mentioned somewhere, or I’m just browsing a names site, and suddenly, I have another dozen names to potentially use. Male and female.

Now, with my Egaea characters, those names are unique. Some of them started life as real names. Some were real names we then altered the spelling of to fit the fantasy world. Others were taken from a name generator or were plucked directly from my brain. That’s one world I don’t worry about names with so much because it’s pure fantasy. The only rule I have is naming convention. The Elves and Maith tend to have Gaelic root names or were generated. The Varan have short, clipped names, usually with an apostrophe separating the syllables. The Humans have traditional, Old English names. The Dragons and Griffins are usually named by their riders, so tend toward the same naming conventions as the Elves. The Drak have more reptilian or highly unusual names. The Spiders—when gifted with a name—tend to have the same conventions as the Elves. Each race has it’s own way of naming their people, and I try to keep that in mind when creating a new character among those races.

With Otherworld and its characters, all but the half-human character are named after plans and naturally occurring things. 😀 That was easy to form a list of, but it’s hard to choose. You don’t want to name a male faerie Daffodil. >.>

Some of my favorite names I’ve used (or will use)? Bastian, Nahele, Gabriel, Grey, Matthew, Roderick, Gideon, Bleidd, Gauwyn, Justyn, Jasyn, Keegan, Payton, Faye, Victor, and Rosaleen.

I name my characters what I like and don’t let any fads dictate what I do or don’t use. I don’t stress over names all that much, and it seems I’m one in a minority. 🙂 I’ll thank my stars for that!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2012 2:30 pm

    I named my male fairy Thorn, Iris Thorn, and his sister is Tangle. But Bud is definitely a male fairy.

    My muses tend to have a certain set of names each. Sometimes they’ll add a new one to the batch. Nick is also Charlie or Henry or Sean. He recently added Ambrose and Kelly varients. His middle name runs to Patrick or Michael. When a name appears in 3 stories, it gets retired and the muse has to find a new one.

    I like very plain names for my characters. When in doubt, I will go to a website that lists popular names in the year they were born. It goes back to the late 19th century. I like to select one of the lesser-used common names (something in the 30s instead of the top ten)

  2. February 24, 2012 5:18 pm

    Lurrrve character names!! thats the best bit 🙂

    Get a bit put off by really long, overly complicated names! n__n

  3. February 27, 2012 6:07 am

    Angelia — I have used listings of popular names in a certain year when choosing a name. If I’m not looking for something very special, or the name hasn’t already appeared in my head associated with the character, those lists can help quite a lot. 😀

    Melanie — Character names are usually where the personality starts with me. I love naming them. It makes them very real and immediate in my head. XD

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