When we create characters, some pop fully formed onto the pages. Others have to be dragged into existence kicking and screaming. Chances are if you are writing fantasy you will need to create a name. This name must represent that person in such a way that it adds to his or her character. I can’t tell you how annoying it is to run into a created name that is so ridiculous it makes me slam the book shut. The same goes for overly stereotypical names in standard fiction.
Here I present to you:
How to create a unique name that doesn’t sound stupid
First decide if the name needs to sound alien or normal.
For normal names try this –
- Assign a nationality based on dominant traits. Think Russian, Italian, American, etc.
- Google a baby name list from your chosen nationality. Many times you can find a list that links meanings to the names.
- From the list select a name that ‘feels’ right to you.
- Start switching one letter at a time and see what you get. You can also use one syllable as the name. Try to stick with standard letter combos or it will start sounding strange. Say you chose Lorenzo. I got Lorendo, Morenzo, Lodenzo, Loden, Jorendo, Joren, etc.
For alien sounding names –
- Use the above method but instead of using standard letter combos throw anything in there, X’s, Y’s, and Z’s are especially useful. Lorenzo turns into Loxenyo, Royenxo, Goxenyo, Xenyo, Gox, etc.
- OR – instead of starting with an real name start with something more foreign, star names, insects, exotic animals, fungi. If it seems to work use them as they are or change them up to suit you better.
My pet peeve is ‘compound noun’ names, such as Stormcrow, Bloodlust, Ravenwing. Generally I only see these used for last names. In my opinion these should be avoided unless you want your character to sound like they’re Native American.
There are lots of different ways of coming up with a name, this is just one of mine. Often I’ll have to do a name test drive to see if it fits in with the text or not, whatever works.