• Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us!

How much effort do you put into names? Have you chosen a name for yourself through your experience in writing?

Miles Lacey

Maester
Character Names:

In a lot of cases I simply think of a personality trait, a prominent physical feature, an occupation or something that is valued within a culture then use Google, Bing or Yandex translation to find the appropriate translated word.

An example is the word Rose. It's a nice name but the society is based on southeast Asian and Polynesian societies so the English name won't do. When translated into certain languages Rose becomes:

Rosas (Filipino)
Mawar (Indonesian and Malay)
Rohi (Maori)
Wungu (Javanese)
Rosa (Samoan)
Rosi (Fijian)
Rose (Hawaiian)

I choose the appropriate words that would suit the character the best. If the character is of a specific race I use words from one language. If they're mixed race I use words from two (or more) languages for their names.

Pen Names:

I use my real name both here and in all my writings (most of which is political stuff). In my view if my writing doesn't have people wanting to either kiss me or kill me then I have failed as a writer.
 
It depends on the project really.

While I try to stick with certain themes or time periods depending on setting, going through baby name generators and all, there are times where I end up with names that truly don't feel fantasy or sci-fi enough... Which lead me to sometimes just naming things through a good 'ol keysmash lol

Mind you it's an edited keysmash, but essentially just slap some random keys and look through the blob of letters. I found it's a good way to find certain sounds to build up a name from and if it's a more uncommon kind of sound, or a set of letters that makes you go "How would that even be pronounced?" I find it's a fun way to build up more non-human names especially and it could open the door way to developing some conlang if that falls into your interests.

All that said I do have a problem with leaving characters unnamed until I find something that truly clicks which makes drafts and notes a bit of a mess. In a sci-fi project I am working on, the key alien companion still doesn't have a name despite almost literally being inseparable from the main character at points... Hopefully I figure that one out soon.


In regards to pen names:
Most of my projects will likely be hosted online to some degree so... I would have to say CreatureHollow will be the name they are posted under, unless a physical publishing opportunity rears its head. I don't mind this honestly, I do like the level of privacy it gives but perhaps when it comes to things actually being published I will feel differently lol. I have time to decide.

For a fun little story, Creature Hollow originates from the first ever little project I had that got me interested in the whole writing thing. That project has since been ripped apart and it's remnants eventually snowballed into what are my current projects, and the fact this title has stuck around as a username is probably the only recognizable thing from that time that hasn't been altered in some way.

In the project, it originally was the name of a sanctuary for fantastical creatures and beasts, which was housed on a sky island that resided within a mass of hollowed clouds.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
I collect lists of names like some people collect stamps... only I'm much cooler. ;) I have thousands. And so what do I do? Give most of our characters Irish Gaelic names because they're Irish Gaelic faeries. lol Save me from Alt codes.
 
Mostly, I use the Everchanging Book of Names (EBoN)* software app, which I once described a long time ago here: Looking for name/language resources....

I'll pick through the results generated by EBoN and create long lists for each project. I like to have names handy for when I suddenly add a character/redshirt to the tale. Since these lists are generated under a set of criteria, they tend to produce results that seem culturally related.

Then, for main characters and other important figures, I'll sometimes spend hours doing Google searches of the most promising EBoN results, just to make sure I'm not using some curse word from another language or something that has already appeared prominently in some other fantasy or science fiction tale.

This method works extremely well, but where it doesn't, it causes roadblocks. I have to weigh names for main characters in my psyche, trying to get just the right feel. If I were to first think of a name that sounds and feels right (sans EBoN), I might land on something faster. But generating a lot of names randomly first then trying to find the ones I'll use can sometimes leave me feeling unsatisfied with my final choices. I'm currently in that boat, having found an MC's name, sorta-settling on it, but feeling some unease.

* EBoN appears to be unavailable nowadays. It was an old program the creator made available for years, but he's possibly finally abandoned it? The link I posted in that other thread no longer works.

________


My screen name here, FifthView, arose in an odd way.

Once upon a time, in the early days of the Internet, I used my full real name, including middle name, everywhere. I was so immensely proud of myself and wanted to be known! Heh.

Then I had a turning point. Don't know what it was—maybe an extended depressive episode. Probably some shock to my sense of self. (There have been so many, I've lost track of the number.) I started using Internet pseudonyms. I wanted to hide my head and...well.

This particular pseudonym stuck. It comes from a topic that obsessed me for about ten years. Heck, I even had a blog devoted to the topic. I also was first published writing on the topic, albeit in a collection of essays someone else self-published. (My contribution makes me cringe to this day. Not because of the subject matter but because of the writing.) So this current online pseudonym is a kind of nod toward that past life of mine, even though I abandoned that life long ago.
 
Last edited:
I have a passage in Whispers of Ghosts where two characters discuss what a forest should be named on their map. The genesis for the chat was the fact that I didn't have a name for the forest in their language, only in the tongue of the natives who they hadn't met. So, while they'd been north of the forest it came to be called the Southern Forest by most folks, but, now that they were south of the southern forest, it felt wrong to call it that on a map the character was making. It was a fun diversion with the brainy map gal and the simple warrior going back and forth.

I might take 2 seconds for a name, or use a placeholder and not settle on one for months. It all depends.
 

BearBear

Inkling
I've asked my characters for help before, even with names, and sometimes they're helpful, some more than others, but other time they're deer in the headlights, often getting an awestruck look and they want to call me "Creator." (Do I have a god complex? Maybe.)

Eventually my most frequent characters made pretty good daemons to talk out real life problems--I could leverage their perspective as separate from my own persona. So for a handful of them, they'd easily help name things. Others just get really confused or nervous.
 
Top