Thinking up names

For people, places both exact and general, I have always struggled with coming up with names. For the main Elven characters in my current project, I used a dictionary I found online, combining the known Elvish from Tolkein’s works, and did a bit of mixing, plus creating my own words based on a sound or similarity to the existing words.

With the humans of my tale, I took names I knew from old England, and changed the spelling of it a bit, to further give that old English feel. For places in the human kingdom, I simply gave names similar to areas around where I live, which for the most part, seem to follow the trend of being named after a natural landmark that existed when the town was first founded. Hence, names like Oakridge and Riverside.

Still, I am not all that great at coming up with names, especially when it comes to dealing with multiple different races of people within the story. They would all have their own culture, and their own way of naming things. So still, I have plenty of things and people to name, from Elvish to Dwarvish to Gnomish to Orcish; and so on.

Any tips from all you readers and writers out there?

On another note, not directly related to the title of this post, I have begun making a map of the world in my tale, and while my drawing skills are horrendous, I will at some time attempt to clean it up on the computer and make it look somewhat nice.



Filed under C.S. Lewis, Christopher Tolkien, Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, Gaming, Heroic Legend, J.R.R. Tolkien, Laurel K Hamilton, Literature, Multiplayer, Shadowbane, World of Warcraft, Writing

2 responses to “Thinking up names

  1. DB

    I have often found that naming characters in a story is never an easy thing to do but I have a few guidelines that I always follow. First, do not make the mistake that Tolken made naming 2 major characters in his world with names that sound almost identical. Saramon and Saron (sp?) can even get confusing when reading them much less speaking the names. As a rule, start out with 5 base words (names) for the naming of each race, and then break that into 5 more names for each general alignment of the characters. (ie. Good/Neutral/Evil) Here is an example:

    Race: Dragonkin (Human’s & elves that have mated with dragons in a polymorphed humanoid form)

    Base names:

    Notice these are very simplistic names and are broken down to the smallest form of each word. (ie. no Draconian or Wyrmtail)

    Now to take the names and add some flare. Break them into 3 more groups using alignment as a backdrop for the name. Careful not to copy or slightly alter a name and then pare the two up and then place them in the same environment or even the same part of the story line. These will be male names. Another set should be done for female.




    Anyways, food for thought, I know it works for me and often I can be just creative enough with the spelling of the names to give a little variety to the story without copying too much of the names causing confusion.

  2. That’s actually a good idea, DB. I’ll have to inject a Gnome into my story, just for you, named Squishy McSpeedBump.

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