Name Theory: Name-Build Skill

Even through my protestation that I am not good a creating names, did you notice the name variation I stumbled upon in this week’s naming?

I didn’t notice it myself until I was writing the blog post.

Julious.

That’s not the name I meant to write. I meant to write Julius, and my twisted spelling happened to be a different pronunciation and thereby a variation on the name.

Accidentally.

On purpose it can be more difficult to create names that are easy to read, easily pronounceable, believable, consistent (with the other names used), and NOT already a real name somewhere.

This week’s writer had a bit of a gift for it.

Elaenine is pretty clearly a variation on Elaine, and a very pretty Fantasy variation it is.

Ennilfeth is probably a much less clear variation on Jennifer, but interesting nonetheless.

Mannurnon seems as though it is a cross between Mannur (a boy’s name of unknown meaning) and Manon (a girl’s name). It sounds male, and strong, and perfect for a Steampunk King.

As with many Fantasy names, these tend to be long and a bit complicated (still readable, though), as short and simple names sound less fantastical and tend to be more likely to already exist as names.

Creating names takes a bit of creativity, some style, and a lot of determination. You must use sounds from “real” names and put them together in a logical way that will sound believable to readers, but the name has to remain something hitherto unknown.

If you write Fantasy, if you world build, name creation is a skill that you ought to develop for yourself. No one else will be able to create just the right name for your world as you will. Certainly, the best I was able to do was recreate the variation Julious (one of my best name creations, I am sad to admit). I bet you could do better than that!

Advertisements

Character of the Week: Steampunk Prince Names

This writer was having namer’s block, and just needed a nudge of inspiration to get going again.

The Writer Describes the Character

Male, late teens/early twenties
Born in a mountainous kingdom as royalty, but was raised on a tiny island far away, in a Steampunk world where magic is present but rare. It’d be just around the equivalent of the Industrial Revolution.
His parents rule fairly and are well liked by their subjects, but there’s a lot of tension between their kingdom and the neighbouring one as their son has been missing, presumed kidnapped, for many years.
Mum and Dad are Mannurnon and Elaenine respectively. His love interest is Ennilfeth. His best friends are Robin, Nemo, and Sabenna.
Loves to laugh, enjoys nothing more than skipping work and causing mischief but is always caught because he can’t keep a straight face to save his life. Stupidly courageous, quick to make friends and will defend them to the death. Betrayal and breaking promises makes him angry, especially when it’s serious. He was apprenticed to be a carpenter and was pretty good at it, but he can’t sit still long enough.
Fantasy
(Whatever help you can provide will be awesome. Thank you!)

This writer created names for the more important characters, but used somewhat rare names for others. By the time I took on this naming I knew I wasn’t strong at creating names, and that it could take a lot of time only for me to discover the names I “created” were real names in other languages.

I chose to search through Victorian names for interesting choices for this character.

My Reply to the Writer

  • Leander
  • Hosteen
  • Chalmers
  • Layton
  • Julious

The writer replied: Personally, I would have leaned towards Leander but I already have a character within the same story called Terpander, which is just too similar I feel. That said, I think your suggestions really helped get rid of the mental block I was having. I really like the idea of nicknaming him Lee, and his name starting with the ‘lay’ sound, even if I won’t use Layton because I keep thinking about a certain game character instead of my own. I’ll have to see what I can come up with, but thank you so much for your suggestions, they helped a lot.

I often edit out the “thanks for the help” messages that writers tacked on to their requests, since they are unnecessary for blog purposes (although, very nice). For this naming, I think the writer’s message was indicative.

Here the writer did not choose one of the names I suggested, though at least two of them were this writer’s style. Instead this writer chose to be inspired by my suggestions, and to let them help him get out of a naming block.

Character of the Week: Necromancer Names

This week we have a different Royalist to name.

The Writer Describes the Character

Male, mid to late 30s

The setting is Lunumbra, a fantasy kingdom very loosely based on England, though not on any specific time period. Monarchs still hold power, and the House of Lords is very limited in what it can do, no house of commons.

Father was a Duke and a Peer (Member of the House of Lords) known to have an unusually close friendship with the Queen Monarch. He was a staunch Royalist and moderately powerful Necromancer.

Mother has a fondness for pepper and can be a bit short tempered at times. The daughter of a very minor noble, many people wonder why the Duke married her. She considers herself lucky to have married so well and never contradicted her husband in public.

Mother: Edith
Married to: Royal Princess Alexandria
First wife: Victoria
Two children from his first wife: Elizabeth (14) and Edmond(12)
Her Royal Highness, the Queen Monarch Anne the Blessed
Prince Edward (Heir to the Throne, younger brother to Princess Alexandria, age 14)
Master Healer Verren and his Apprentice Modren/Aaron (both from a foreign land)

Lord Martial of the Necromasters (they specialize in stealing control of undead from rebel necromancers), he was born during a solar eclipse and is extremely powerful. He places a high priority on keeping himself physically fit and is believes women need to know at least enough about fighting to defend themselves in an emergency. (His first wife was murdered.) Like his father before him, he is loyal to the crown. As a younger son of his father he did not inherit his father’s title or Peership but has earned a place in the House of Lords for his Service to the Crown.

Fantasy (probably going to end up somewhat Steampunk-ish)

To name this character, I first tried to learn a bit about Necromancers (read: I searched Wikipedia). For a minute I considered searching for a name that was somewhat magical/mystical/fantasy to fit a necromancer, but none of those names would have fit a man who lives in an alternate United Kingdom and whose parents were Royalists. I felt that a more traditional name, or at least an English name, was in order for this character.

My Reply to the Writer

I hope you weren’t looking for something Norse and necromancy. I felt that they name should match the other characters.

  • Angus
  • Owen
  • Rhys
  • Oliver
  • Ellis

The writer replied: Thanks, I think I may use Oliver, for a handful of reasons. First it sounds good with the name for his family that popped into my head last night (Gray), and second Oliver has some associations I make that I think add depth to the story I intend to write. So I now know that the head of the Necromasters is Oliver Gray. Thank you very much. And I was hoping for something that matches the other characters, so you done good. (Also you happen to have included the name of That Guy I Sleep With in your list. *G*)

I’m glad the writer liked my take on this Necromaster’s name. I also find it amusing that I guessed her pseudo-boyfriend’s name. I have noticed that many people are drawn to the same types of names in characters and in loved ones.

Character of the Week: Medieval Fantasy Steampunk Rebel Names

Even this writer isn’t sure what genre her story should be in, but she knew what she was looking for in a name.

The Writer Describes the Character

Male, 19 (was born about April 19th, using our calendar)
He lives in a sort of primeval “time before time” which resembles bits and pieces of European history from the late middle ages to the early 1900s. He was born in the slums of the capital city, Ilmatar, and though he and his father had a relatively nice house, they were still firmly in the lower classes.
His mother was a prostitute, and his father, Rhett, was not a client, but his mother’s live-in boyfriend at the time. They don’t know who the biological father is, but Rhett doesn’t care; the child is his in spirit. Rhett was originally a travelling merchant, but set up a permanent shop in Ilmatar, and eventually came to head a revolution against the crown.
Rhett wanted him to stay safe and run his shop, but they both knew that wouldn’t happen. He minds the shop occasionally, but spends most his time drinking and smoking, though he has an acute interest in the upcoming rebellion, which intensifies as the story progresses. He has very tan skin, light-brown hair, and gray eyes. His last name is Faulkner.
Names of other characters: Savanna (girlfriend), Rhett Faulkner (father), Shannon (kid sister), Nalren (crown prince), Jay (best friend), Cyra (godmother), Garrick (other friend), Elsia (princess), Mae (princess), Levona (queen), Angvre (king), Hazine (Nalren’s girlfriend), Jepp (incompetent palace guard).
Not quite Fantasy, but cutting pretty close

The story is not fantasy-based, but it is set in a make-believe world. It would be best for naming and promotional purposes if this story could be changed to fit in a genre (maybe Steampunk?), but I’ll work with what I’m given. I’m just glad this writer gave me so many of the other characters names to look to for style.

I looked at Medieval names for this character, but then resorted to looking for names from different sources that matched the style of some of the other names. All of these names, save Angvre, are real names, so they gave me an idea of what the writer was looking for in terms of feel and origin.

My Reply to the Writer

  • Edric Faulkner
  • Phineas Faulkner
  • Korbin Faulkner
  • Lachlan Faulkner
  • Harper Faulkner

The writer replied: His name is now Hedrick; I combined Harper and Edric. I also enjoy how it stems from a translation of “Ivy.” There’s a particular song about ivy that I listen to that I’m sure he would hate.

This writer knew what she wanted, and she created it! By looking at the sounds in the names I suggested, she discovered the name that suited her character.

Name Theory: World Building, Societies, and Names

There are genres in which you may do the character naming early in your process, and there are other genres where the character naming should come after some substantial world building.

In contemporary fiction, you can generally look for appropriate names anytime. In fact, you may even start with a character name and “discover” the character’s story and plot afterwards.

If you are writing historical fiction about a place and time-period which you have studied, you may also name your characters early in the outlining process.

However, the more world building your novel will require is directly related to how much planning ought to go in before you name your characters.

Let’s take for example the werewolf namings I did a few weeks ago. As you may recall, I pointed out that if you werewolf was bitten s/he would have been named something unrelated to wolves or the moon or what-have-you; if your werewolf is instead a part of a werewolf society, with packs and power designations, then s/he may have been named something more obviously wolfy. I would challenge you to think that example even further, though, and to consider naming your society of werewolves with names related to their familial lines (e.g. the leader’s family would have more powerful and strong-sounding names, while the others may have more traditionally occupational names to signify their “worker” status). Or you could go with the cheesy/cutesy all the Alphas have Al- names (Alexei, Alejandro, Alegra), the Betas have B- names (Beth, Benji, Bartholomew), et cettera.

Fictional werewolves (usually) live in our contemporary world, so these characters could be named once their origin and familial structure is worked out, but before the entire plot is planned; however, characters in a future or alien setting would require more world building before naming.

Take for example this week’s King. The writer of this story ought to have worked out exactly what the society is like, what part technology plays (whether it is “nothing” as stated, or “steampunk” as also stated), and the power structure of the last 50-100 years that may affect the characters mores and what parents in that society would be naming their children. For example, when the King decided to have society revert to a Victorian-like society he could have insisted that everyone take on names from a Victorian Names Registry (like the registries that some countries use for baby naming). There would then be many Johns and Marys, and no Jaxons and Mackenzies, in this post-apocalyptic society.

Names are a reflection of society. In our modern society being unique and independent are important, so we give our children more unusual names. If your novel is set now or in the near future, you can easily assume the characters will have a selection of some of the currently popular names mixed with some strikingly-distinctive names. If, however, your novel society is not our own, then you need to discover what is important to the parents of that society, and how they would name their babies.

Character of the Week: Steampunk King Names

In honor of Presidents’ Day, I thought I should choose a “leader” naming. This one is a King’s naming.

Male, 26 in 2160 (Futuristic-Victorian-Steampunk)
Where born/raised: Don’t have this fully worked out yet.
His dad was a primary politician who was one of the ones who brought on the war that devastated civilization. He neglected his wife to the point where she got sick and gave up living. Very destructive man.
Other characters are Tim O’Brien, Brinn McAllen, Gus, Claire Ferguson, and Jenny Newport.
He’s the antagonist of the story. He’s the King of a post-apocalyptic society in which technology has reverted back to early 1900s. (He’s officially titled the King, but everyone thinks of him more as a Prince because he’s fairly young.)
My villain believes that man is inherently evil and prone to destruction. He witnessed first-hand the downfall of the modern world, and now seeks to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He believes that the cause for the downfall was technology and money, so he limits them both. Technology, he has removed almost completely. Money, he allows to thrive for those individuals he deems ‘non-destructive.’ Destructive behaviors include strong beliefs, ability to stand up for one’s self, creative or forward-thought, as well as a few other things.
Sci-Fi/Steampunk/Youth

First off, I want to say that I would not want to read this novel; my reasons are below. Despite my opinions on this novel’s potential, I still found the idea of naming this King fascinating. He is a villain, and they are always interesting (and usually have interesting names); he doesn’t seem to care much for tradition, so he may have chosen a more elevated-sounding name for himself; and, the fact that the other characters’ names are common and mostly Irish led me to consider British names for him.

A British-named King seemed like a good antagonist for this story, especially since the writer labeled the story “Victorian.” I looked up names from that era and chose names I thought sounded both “young” and villainous.

I see you’ve chosen many Irish names for your characters, so I thought a British-named King would be a good contrast.

  • King Ambrose
  • King Eldon
  • King Harland
  • King Jeptha
  • King Zebulon

The writer didn’t reply about this naming. I could speculate as to why, but I’d rather talk about my hopeless feeling about this novel.

I feel like the writer’s choices were conflicting and potentially destructive to the story. First, this is a “Futuristic-Victorian-Steampunk”, and while I’ve read a book that could be described thusly I think it would be best if the writer focused on either the Futuristic or Victorian aspect. Second, the writer has worked out a lot of this character’s motivations (all good), but hasn’t settled on the character’s background; I think the character’s background, including some information about his mother that makes her more well-rounded, should be fleshed out before his motivations are finalized. Third, the writer says that the King is considered a “Prince” because he is young, but at 26 the character is not that young for a King (especially historically), and if people consider him like a Prince he probably wouldn’t be given enough respect or power to have the absolute control he seems to have. Fourth, I don’t know how characters who do not have strong beliefs or the ability to stand up for themselves would be able to make their money “thrive”, whether he allowed them to or not. Fifth, the writer listed this novel’s genre as “Sci-Fi/Steampunk/Youth” even though there is no science or technology that would make it Sci-Fi, nothing other than a reference to Victorian to make it Steampunk, and no mention of truly young characters who would make this a Young Adult novel; this novel may well deserve any or all of these genre designations, but I don’t see evidence of them in this and I’m not convinced the writer is clear on what each of these genre designations mean.

I hope this all doesn’t sound harsher than I mean it to. I just wanted to point out that in this instance I feel that the writer should focus more on his or her world building and plot development before coming to the detail of naming. While I think names are important for the finished story, and that main characters should be named before writing begins, I think this story needs more plotting before it would be time to decide on names and naming conventions in this world.

Character of the Week: Celtic Steampunk Names

I haven’t as yet read any Steampunk, so I don’t know anything about the conventions of that movement in literature. I have, however, looked at many Steampunk costumes on Pinterest, and I love them!

Female, 19, Fantasy/Steampunk so no real time-period

Born in an abusive family based on a Christian cult, but she’s cast off the name they gave her when she was taken in to be raised by a group of people that run special missions for the government after they killed her family as part of a job. Their names are mainly celtic/elven mixes.

Her father figure is called Tale, and she is currently (willingly) being pursued by a god called Rhean.

She is a trainee of the Green Cloaks, the group that runs special missions for the government. Rather shy around men, she still flinches when someone moves to touch her unexpectedly. She tries to always stay in the background, which is rather hard since people know she is the favourite of a god. Very much determined to become the best in her field, she has no real hobbies or a social life.

Steampunk

I’m under the impression that Steampunk is mainly set in a Victorian England-type place, but this novel does not seem to fit that. Since there is no real time-period or place this is based on (according to the writer), I felt free to be a little loose in the choices I made.

  • Dilys
  • Grear
  • Edme
  • Annora
  • Faustine

The writer replied: Thank you for the names! I’ve decided to go with Edme.

Edme, like the writer’s other name choices, has been used for boys or girls depending on the culture and time period. I generally feel that they sound best for the gender this writer is using them for, because they remind me of other names used for those genders: Tale is like Tate; Rhean is like Ryan (a mostly boy name); and, Edme is like Esme.