Naming characters has to be without a doubt one of the more harder things to do in writing. Well naming in general is one of the more harder things to do. Once a character has a name, they are generally stuck with it. A name isn’t just an arbitrary thing, you can’t just go right you are Bob and you are Helen. The name has to be right for the character, as it is much a reflection of them as their actions. It is a bit like naming places in that sense, you wouldn’t call a flat barren area Mt. Heavens. You also have to think a bit about the character’s background, their ethnicity or race and if the created name is consistent with the style of their language of origin. There are probably many more aspects that go through my head when creating names, but those are the immediate things that come to mind.
So how do you come up with names? There are lots of ways one can go about coming up with names. Sometimes it can come from research other times it can come from letting the mind do its own thing. Most of the time I find it is a little bit of both. I tend to find translation tools helpful to see how English words appear in different languages. This is usually followed by speaking them aloud, merging words, toying with alterations in the spelling and speaking the aloud. I tend to get a short list going of words that sound nice and fit the character and their linguistics of the character, then start the splicing of words and ideas anew. By the end of it, I always give one last final check to make sure I am happy with the name and that it feels right with the character.
A great example is when I create names for one of my alien races. Their language tends to be more lighter and musical so there tends to be a lot of I’s, E’s and A vowel sounds in their names. For most of the time, I tend to lean on Latin and French languages with occasional German endings for individuals of this particular race. A current name in the conceptual process has started with the latin word luceat (shine). It has undergone modifications such as Iluceat, Iluciat and Iluciet. I am trying to move the sounding away from that latin chet ending to sound more like combining the c in Lucy and the iet in Juliet. I am not certain yet if I want to combine more into the name, so we will just have to see.
It is definitely a lot easier dealing with human names with real world nationalities. The conventions and concepts are already there. You need to focus more on research and era. Creating names for aliens and fantasy races is harder in it requires a lot more work from the grounds up. It tends to take a lot longer, but the difficulty of the task definitely seems to feel a lot more rewarding. You have to wonder how parents handle the task, it isn’t easy and unlike fictional characters we get stuck with the end result.
Anyway hope you are all having a good week so far. There is my two cents on naming for the day.