Name Theory: Now Staring Your Imagination

Imagination is the greatest tool for writers, and for all creative people. Creative people need to be able to envision things others will never dream of, from names to descriptions to whole worlds!

You may notice in my character namings that I often will describe how I see the character I’ve been asked to name, such as in this week’s naming when I said that “I imagine [she] goes from silent to screaming when provoked.” The description that a writer gives me of a character is a starting off point for me to envision that character—just as it will be for a reader—and I use my imagination to grow that character into someone I can “see” well enough to name.

Today I have to do this for myself.

A week or so ago I finally got around to seeing The Hobbit—or, at least, I saw some of it. During the movie I was completely distracted by my own imagination. For years I’ve wondered if I would ever write a Fantasy novel, and I’ve usually leaned towards no, but as I watched Bilbo start his adventure of a lifetime I suddenly got an idea for how I would write my own Fantasy.

I have little interest in adult Fantasy, so my story is more in the league of a Middle Grade Fantasy Adventure but with Young Adult protagonists and with a Young Adult perspective. It stars a regular teen from our world who is transported into another world.

For him I will need an unremarkable sort of name for a teen boy, a David sort of name but with less of a classic quality. Nothing trendy for this boy, and nothing that sounds cool or hot.

For him I’ll be studying the Social Security Administration’s list of Baby Names to find the right fit.

However, for the other main characters I will need another sort of inspiration. After reading a post a few weeks ago on the Western bias of most Fantasy, including the predominant use of Western names or made-up names that mimic Western names, I have decided that I will try to use names from a less familiar Eastern culture. I’m considering using Thai names, as they seem to have the right sound for me while not being as recognizable as Chinese or Indian names would be to the Western ear.

Also, using Eastern names will help my imagination to create characters that are less stereotype—Princess, Overlord, Page—and more realistic and rounded. It will also be more fun.

Because that’s what writing is—fun. And that’s what the imagination does—it says let’s pretend, let’s go on an adventure with these characters and see what happens to them, let’s transcend what’s already been created and discover a new world to share with others.

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