Character Names

by casimir

Question How do I come up with names without using ones that have already been used or sound like real people?

Answer: I take it you're writing fantasy and want names that originate in a made-up culture? Most names in the real world are constantly being reused and duplicated.

One approach is to consider what sounds you want your culture's language to be based on. For instance, Italian sounds very different from Gallic or Japanese. You can take the flavour of a given culture - the sounds, rhythms, etc. of the language - and apply to them to your fantasy culture. You can take traditional names from a given culture replace certain consonants or vowels, or alter the spelling a little, to create original names.

Alternatively, you might look at names that were common in ancient cultures that few people would recognize today.

Of course, the other option is to just make them up.

Comments for Character Names

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Mar 14, 2013
Totally A Problem!
by: Anonymous

Oh, my. Painfully familiar problem!(insert rueful sigh) If you decide to create your own names, be VERY CAREFUL. Within a year of "inventing" any new name for a character or country, I inevitably stumble across it in a book or a movie, or even on a tombstone epitaph. One of my kingdom names even ended up being an acronym for an educational corporation. And I thought I was so original! My advice - after you make up a name, run a Google search on it. Good luck!

Jan 08, 2015
don't worry about it
by: John

The likelihood that you'll find a totally unique name, let alone a full set of unique names is practically zero. There are just too many people making up names for various things any more. And with the rash of parents wanting unique (and uniquely spelled variants) names for their children, even more clever names are going to disappear.

I have a name I like to use as an avatar in online games that comes from a lesser character in a Gary Jennings book (Aztec) - Zylanya. Imagine my surprise when I found someone on a help forum asking for help with the same game as me, using the same mod package, with the same error as I was having, and was using the same character name.

Even the moderator of the site was shocked.

Assuming your names sound different than normal English (if you want them to) your readers will be happy with it. Not everyone needs to invent a complete language like Tolkien did.

May 16, 2017
by: Anonymous

I think grr martin was clever and inventive in mainly taking existing common names and just twisting them slightly. Think kevan, Robart, etc. How about Daverd, Lonnel, Makkel,Reckitt, or for women Annela, Mellany, Judit, Celaire. A variation in spelling that isn't common now can give a mediaeval/fantasy feel for a name.

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