Monday, April 16, 2012

Naming Things

Well, it's been a little while since I've done a writer-ly topic. But I don't want to talk so much today. Instead, I have a question for you: How do you choose what to name things?

I mean, we name our babies, and our pets... and a lot of people name their cars, too. But as writers, especially in Sci-fi and Fantasy, we have to name people, places, events, objects, races, and magic/technology. So how do you do it? How do you decide on a name? Does it have some special meaning, or does it just sound good? Either way, let me (and each other) know in the comments!

-Tsira

P.S. And while we're participating, here's another reminder--on the right side of my blog, there's a poll asking what I should have at my booth for CONduit, which takes place at the end of May. If you haven't voted already, please do so. Thanks. :)

15 comments:

  1. I need to stop using my siblings' names. I think they get the wrong impression.

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    1. Ahaha, Andy. Maybe for your next project, you can make up your own... ;)

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  2. For my characters I use one of two methods: I google for a list of names that may have a particular meaning. So, if I'm looking for find a name for someone who is a conniving, sniveling little weasel, I'll look for a name to best describe that meaning. The other method is popularity. I'll look for character names based on the popularity of the name. Names such as Liam or Charlotte are at the top of the list. If I use them once, I won't use them again. And people tend to respond to popular names.

    If I'm naming buildings, lake, streets or other inanimate objects, I always choose names from my hometown. Always. It makes my names personal and it brings a memory whenever I hear the name read aloud.

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    1. Interesting process! I see that the next person avoids popular names. But I think there's a familiarity and kinship with names that people have heard before, whereas when many people see those crazy fantasy names, I think inside they go, "How am I supposed to like this person? I don't even know how to pronounce their name!" I know I have... though I'm one of those that does it. Haha.

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  3. I use the first name that pops into my head and I've had some doozies... One of my favourites was Stinky MacFarlane... another was Beansie Phlap. See? Weird right? But memorable. I think the name has to fit the character, too.
    It's a tricky business, naming characters... but I always avoid "popular" or trendy names because it dates a story and feels amateurish. Use your imagination. Find a name you LOVE.

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    1. Beansie Phlap. Those really are memorable. Haha. :) Sounds like good stuff for children's fiction. Actually, it reminds me of "Too Many Daves" by Dr. Seuss.

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  4. Interesting questions. I'm the same as Cathy and I usually use whatever first pops into my head. When I hear really interesting names though, I'll store them in my phone for when I need to name a new character.

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    1. Writing them down is a good idea. I think I lose a lot of great material all the time when I don't have my notepad nearby--but typing it into my phone... hmm. :)

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  6. I'm a big fan of random name generators. Whenever I have a bunch of stuff to name, I'll sit down with one of those and gather up a bunch that catch my eye, then figure out what they sound like.

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    1. I do the same thing--but just with my brain. I just write down whatever the heck pops into my head and circle the ones I like.

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  7. Names are so hard to come up with. I think it’s good to have names that aren’t hard to pronounce, and aren’t too difficult to remember. Sometimes I use a weird last name I’ve heard for a country or city. It works pretty well, I think.
    ~Aidyl
    www.aidylewoh.blogspot.com

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    1. Good point. I think names can suffer if the author tries to get too clever with the spelling, too. Aidyl--isn't that Lydia backwards? :)

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  8. I think people usually use the names that they already know (like some distant relative or some place where you had been long back)

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    1. I think so, too. I recently read that Brandon Sanderson just slightly modified hundreds of common names for the Wheel of Time series through some sort of contest.

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