Creating Names for Fantasy

Guest post

by Gordon Long

Okay, in real life I’m terrible with names. I get introduced to someone, and the last thing I remember is his or her name. I like to think it’s not laziness. I know that a person’s name bears no relationship to what that person is really like. It was chosen for them before they were born, and has had a minor influence on the shaping of their personality. “A Boy Named Sue” excepted. All those prejudices that people have about people’s names are just that: prejudices. So when I first meet someone, I am looking to other clues as to his or her personality.

However, when creating names for a story, the situation is completely reversed. If I’m creating a character to meet my readers, suddenly all those prejudices become really important. I want a name that clicks immediately. If I want a he-man character, I want a name that says so. An evocative name is worth more than a thousand words of description. Continue reading “Creating Names for Fantasy”

Name Droppers

I was talking the other day with E.L. James and Hugh Howey about what a bunch of name-droppers we writers are.

Okay, maybe that part didn’t happen, and I don’t mean name-dropper in the conventional sense. I mean that as writers, we have actually dropped certain names from literature.

When we choose our characters’ names, we use the opportunity to enhance the reader’s mental image of the character. Certain names just don’t seem to do that as well, so we drop them from the lexicon. They may not be totally gone, but to the extent they are used at all, they are given to minor characters. Continue reading “Name Droppers”

What’s in a name, Jar Jar?

This post is more a rumination than anything approaching “advice.” Because really, if anybody knew anything about any aspect of writing that was true in all times and places, I feel like I would have seen it in my facebook newsfeed by now. Different strokes for different folks, we’re all perfect snowflakes, yadda-yadda-yadda. But here are some things I think I know about giving names to those little imps running around our narratives, couched in Star Wars terms in a blatant attempt to hold people’s interest. Continue reading “What’s in a name, Jar Jar?”

%d bloggers like this: