Name Theory: Aspirational Fantasy Names

It’s always important to consider all of your fantasy character’s names as a whole. Having a similar style of name will help your characters feel like a culture within the world of their novel.

The last two weeks I have featured fantasy Royalists’ names. These characters had parents who were involved with the royal houses of their lands, and who respected and looked-up to these royals. As the song Royals says, “we’ll never be royals” and yet “I’m in love with being Queen.” Many people aspire to be like Royals, either the actual regal kind or the Hollywood version.

Baby name aficionados give a lot of flak to so-called “Aspirational” names, those like Lexus and Armani which are obviously lux brands, but they often fail to recognize that many names are aspirational at their core.

Yes, lower class people will name their children after brands and stores that they aspire to acquire from, hence the past popularity of the name Tiffany. But upper class people also give their children “Aspirational” names too—only theirs are often “family” names such as the father’s name (junior) or the mother’s surname, or some other family name that may signify that the child is connected to a famous and/or wealthy family and that the parents expect the child to follow in that tradition of fame and fortune.

Fictional Royalists would, like their real counterparts, consider granting their children names that are related to the royal family.

In last week’s naming I chose names that were frilly and “princess” sounding, since that story sounded more fairy tale-ish. In this week’s naming I went with names that were strong and British without being too traditional, so the character would remain slightly set apart from his royal peers.

In each case I considered names that might be related to the royal family of that land, names that the character’s parents might have chosen in honor of a royal descendant, names that were slightly aspirational.

History and research is important to historical novels, but the fictional history of fantasy novels is just as important. Having a history, and a reasoning behind name and other culture choices, will make any fantasy novel stronger. Consider your character’s aspirations, and how those might affect their fictional babies names.

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