5 Ways to Choose a Name

Recently, on a group I follow on Facebook, someone asked "How do you name your characters or come up with unique names for different species and races?" Here are five ways to select a name for a character, race or group.

  1. Select a characteristic that you think is prevalent in your character or the race that you are dealing with. For example: the name Bella, is the Itallian word for beauty. Belle is the French version. Then modify it in one of the following ways: A) Modify it only by changing either the prefix or suffix.... For example: Strong for a male character can literally be changed to Strongman, as a last name. B) Modify the language it is in: example Strong in French is Fort (male) or Forte (Female). A female character's first name could be Forté. 
  2. Find a society or culture that you really like and research a popular first name.
  3. Find a society or culture that you think closely resembles the society that the person came from or that you think closely resembles the society that you're trying to build, and then find common themes in this society. Echo any terms, names or geography after their culture and country. For example, I wrote a book with an oracle in it but the oracle in my book had a very different role. She was not only an oracle (seer) but was also a leader of her people. After researching other female roles, I found the term, "Pythia," and named that role after it.
  4. Learn a small amount of Latin and Greek. The languages use a "root word" plus prefix or suffix system of language... as all languages do. Then utilize this system to piece together terms, names and place-names. For example. One of the books I am preparing for pitch has a were-bear in it. I wanted to find a "Scientific" name for the disease that wou1ld cause it. For example (for those who do not read fantasy) werewolves have lycanthropy. So, I found the Latin name for bear (ursul) and created ursulinothropy.
  5. Finally, you can always go to some online name generators or online baby names databases in order to select the name for your character. This can make your life easier if you're just developing stock characters that you only see once in the book and some give you the option to look for names by culture. Here are some of those sites: A) Baby Name Genie, Nymbler, and Baby Names 

So those are the ways that I find work best for me when trying to think of a name. Some names come quickly to you, like my first book; both characters in the book were named after people who I knew who died before they reached 25 years of age.

Sometimes it'll come to you, sometimes you'll struggle, but pick a name you can spell easily and you can always use the Word "replace" function in order to change any name after the fact.

Have a great rest of your weekend!

Amanda McDonald

Did you find this post useful? Let me know below and comment. I'd appreciate your feedback!

No comments: