1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Naming issues

Discussion in 'World Building' started by soulless, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. soulless

    soulless Troubadour

    182
    5
    18
    What do you do if you've been working on a story for a while and then discover that a major name you've used, such as a country/continent or your world, unknown to you previously has been used by someone else in a published work. Obviously you have to change it somewhat but how does that affect you and your work in progress.
     
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    4,044
    1,947
    163
    We all have this issue from time to time. It can be frustrating for certain.

    When it happens to me, I take confidence in the fact that another professional thought along the same lines. Then, after some time to let irritation at being second dissipate, I change mine.
     
  3. Kevlar

    Kevlar Troubadour

    181
    17
    18
    I follow basically the same process as Allen, and I've had to a few times. Apparently I'm really damn good at coming up with names that George R R Martin already has published, because when I started reading his stuff I had to get rid of quite a few names. Off the top of my head I had a place called Miir (close to his Myr), a man named Rikkon (close to his Rickon), and a man named Varamyr. He also has the names Selyse and Tristifer, and so do I, but I don't want to give those up.

    I also had to get rid of a kingdom called Valencia when I learned it was a real historical kingdom and a city in Spain.

    Those are just a few examples, it's happened so many times I forget most of them and it no longer phases me too long.
     
  4. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

    1,154
    193
    63
    I have a race of "quantum" teleporters in one of my worlds (okay universe, but who cares). Suffice to say they used to share a name with a video game that has just come out on xbox 360.

    I was annoyed sure, but I'm second fiddle to the already out there products so I changed it. I took out a few letters, conjugated it differently, found synonyms.. eventually I found something I liked better in fact.

    The way I see it that game did me a favour. And yet the only way I could know I was sharing a name with something was to find it, and therefore we all need to read, and consume what ever media necessary in genre fiction in order to discover these things.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,285
    3,684
    413
    Valencia is also a city in California, and who knows how many other places.

    I am not sure you're on the right track automatically getting rid of names if they appear in the real world or have been used in other fictional works. Sure, for major locales...I wouldn't have a Paris or London in my story. But the sheer number of named places on earth means you are really putting yourself in a box if you let it bother you. Unless it is a major location, I'd go ahead with it, assuming the name otherwise fits within your fantasy world.
     
  6. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    4,044
    1,947
    163
    I think this also matters more with character importance or if the name is derived from an iconic story.

    In most cases you can probably get away with reusing a name if it's a secondary or tertiary character from most books (i.e. Marsh from the first Mistborn book). However, if the tertiary character came from an iconic book this may stick out like a sore thumb (i.e. Pippin).
     
  7. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    1,628
    530
    113
    I agree with Steerpike in much of his points. Valencia is originally from Spain (who owned California at one point), and we use copied names all the time truth be told; Rome, New York or Springfield in every state pretty much. I think for stories, if it is a minor place or character I wouldn't worry about it too much as I don't think readers will be like "OMG HE/SHE STOLE THAT FROM SUCH AND SUCH AUTHOR!".

    Even main place or person names can be "copied" from someone else in a pinch; since many of those ideas you have may have been used at some point in the history of literature. I think that as long as the character or place is decidedly different from the other writer's depiction readers won't really take it as copying.

    For my main work in progress, I checked my main place names and nothing popped up on Google, so I guess I am okay for originality with their names. Not everyone is good at naming places and I noticed that many authors use a "placeholder" name when writing until such time as they can think of something suitable.
     
  8. Zophos

    Zophos Minstrel

    82
    18
    8
    Depends on how fantastical your world is. I wrote a short story about a little girl and a faery once that purposely used the city Omaha. I wanted it to have a gritty yet familiar feel. I use many near-common words, arcane definitions of words, similar structures and conjugation, etc. If you are using a completely made up word that wound up being a duplicate or a word that has major precedence in the genre, like Kender, I'd steer clear. All in all a word like Hobbledehoy is probably okay, but a word like Hobbit probably isn't.
     
  9. RedMorningSky

    RedMorningSky Dreamer

    24
    5
    3
    I think a name needs to be believable so if it has some element of something that already exists that can be helpful because people can latch onto it. But in a lot of cases it needs to be different enough that the reader won't automatically associate with the other name.
     
  10. Alex97

    Alex97 Troubadour

    121
    15
    18
    So long as it's not too obvious I think it's ok to use existing names providing they fit in with your world of course. For example I recently wanted to use the name Alastor which was a very badly known Ancient Greek spirit. I however found out later that Alastor is a character from Harry Potter so I changed it to Alator but made Alastor his father. Since the Alastor in my book is tottaly different and it's not a particualy well known name I don't think I'll have any problems.
     
  11. Ambora

    Ambora Acolyte

    7
    1
    3
    I would change the spelling or pronunciation.
     
  12. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    1,628
    530
    113
    That could easily work as a "quick fix" especially if the place or person is different enough from the original.
     
  13. ScipioSmith

    ScipioSmith Sage

    249
    33
    28
    I was initially a bit put out when I discovered Corona, a name of a province I'm using, was also the name of the kingdom in Disney's Tangled. However I decided to leave it because a) the name never appears in the film only in supplementary material and b) they didn't invent the name either.
     
  14. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    2,888
    495
    83
    We've all been there at some point I think. It really comes down to three questions:

    -How similar is their use of the name to yours?
    -Is their work famous or obscure?
    -Can you, without too much arrogance, consider your ideas better than theirs, or at least in a different niche?

    If two out of three answers are, respectively:
    -not all that similar
    -pretty obscure
    -yes

    Then you're probably in good shape. Otherwise, it might be good to make a minor change. Just make sure to stay true to your core idea when making those changes.
     
  15. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    2,888
    495
    83
    I'm gonna guess... Future Soldiers?
     
  16. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

    1,154
    193
    63
    Darksider... That may not quite be the title of it, but I'm vaguely aware of "this thing" you know? Plus I believe Roddenberry tried it at least a decade ago too.

    I'd rather mine be different anyway its a pretty naff name in context with the rest of my stuff and the new one makes more sense. phonologically, as a media nickname, as a descriptor... so many ways.
     
  17. ethgania

    ethgania Dreamer

    18
    0
    1
    I get super paranoid and Google all of my names. Evidently one of my characters is a subspecies or something of Cherry, which was kind of neat. Most of the time I just find gibberish though, which is good enough for me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
Loading...

Share This Page