Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Names. Fantasy names. In fact, names in general.

I was going to do a post on dialog. THEN I was going to do a post on fantasy worlds. But I ran out of time do either one of those. 

I was having too much fun goofing around with other things, just like this guy.

Isn't he soo cute??


So it's another short-quill-tip post this week, sorry. I'll try harder next week.....

Fantasy names. They seem daunting when we're trying to find a good name for {insert character bio} "warrior guy, elfish race, carries around two swords, has dark hair, blue eyes" or any etc. character waiting to step into the world of our creating.

A few simple tips, though.

Long names are daunting. Your dashing main character Aledarormende is not going to generate my sympathy or attention. Neither will his sidekick, Danaturnustough. If I can't pronounce his name, much less read all the way through it, the book will be put down right away, methinks. Oh yes, and you might want to think about revising Nal'kim, Ack'aw'og, and Tinaed'ch. A lot of the time, I find that even if the name is easy to pronounce, I really don't know what to do with that apostrophe.  Throws the reader off. 

Names with too many Z's, K's, X's, Q's, and ' apostrophes are going to frustrate/overwhelm/tune out the reader. Etzaselja is going to scramble my brains, Etzyjaj will make me wonder if there's a typo, and Kacholaqa and Ajojich are going to just intimidate me. 

Don't name anybody Bob. Assuming we're in a fantasy world, minimizing common contemporary names will definitely up the believability :) Not that you would be crazy enough to actually utilize the name Bob, but names that are obviously contemporary will jolt the reader out of the story a wee bit.

To the not-fantasy/sci-fi writers:

Keep the names within the time period and location, assuming you're writing historical fiction, or anything that's not contemporary but takes place on Earth. If you're writing a story that takes place in Russia, Jean-Claude needs a new name. If you're writing a story in the Old Testament times, then please rename Claudio to maybe, um, Jehoshaphat or something. 

Some of these things are obvious, but they're easy to forget sometimes :)

Hope this helped!


Georgianna Penn said...

Ah, names! One of my favorite parts of writing. I've never really liked long names. Most of my characters have relatively short names. One of the longer ones is Weston. I don't mind long ones, but I seem to adore the shorter ones.

Anyway, great post!

Joryn said...

Good reminders :) A question though, what is your advice/what are your thoughts, on names for bad guys? To me, it's fairly easy to name everyone but the bad guys...

Cosette said...

Those long names CAN get annoying; most of the time I don't figure out how to pronounce it until near the end of the book. -_- Good tips!

Endor said...

I like these tips! A lot. And you made me laugh, which is good. ;)

Jedi~Chick said...

Oooh, this was helpful!!! :D Thanks! I need a name for my new story, so this post was quite helpful! :D

Jedi~Chick <3

Sarah said...

Ha! I find that even when I'm writing a fantasy story, a name book can be very helpful. You can often find unusual names in them or modify real names to make new ones.

Case in point:
Leilani= real name. It's Hawaiian.
Jaysen= Modified spelling of Jason.
Toro= Real name
Anmanda= Modified Amanda

What do you think of this name: D'vite? Is it too confusing? I usually pronounce it as Duh-vite.

Is that your ferret?

-Lady Sarah . . . you know the rest.

The Director said...

Thanks everybody! :)

Sarah: D'vite seemed doable! :) And YES- name books are one of my favorite things. :D

No, it's not my ferret. Ours isn't a sable- I got that photo from cuteoverload.com ;)

Sarah said...

I'd b' thankin' yu very much for yur kind words, Director. That little fellow b' quite cute. Do yu b' owning one yurself?

I love Scottish accents.
-Sarah the fox

Sarah said...

I'd b' thankin' yu very much for yur kind words, Director. That little fellow b' quite cute. Do yu b' owning one yurself?

I love Scottish accents.
-Sarah the fox