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suggestions for naming characters

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suggestions for naming characters

Postby JacobS » Mon Nov 28, 2005 1:43 am

Hey, I am planning on writing a story, but I lack the ability to come up with names. Pretty much any help will be apreciated, but above all I will hail the who shares with me the deep, dark secrets of the process of naming my Heros, villians, and just about any random and useless 'figs whom I deem fit to have a name (though seldom would you find a random, useless 'fig with a name in the wild... err yeah)

Thanks, Jacob
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Postby rogue27 » Mon Nov 28, 2005 3:44 am

There are a lot of ways to go about naming characters.

You can borrow names from different regions, and assign them to specific factions. For example:

Faction 1: (Finnish names)
Jorma, Toivo, Timo...

Faction 2: (Swedish Names)
Anders, Johan, Stefan...

Just pick a region or country and search the internet for common names. If you want some exotic sounding names, try middle eastern or oriental countries.


Another way to name characters is to just come up with unusual spellings for ordinary names.
Peter/Petyr, Sara/Saera, George/Jorj

D&D style is to just toss random syllables together:
Arilyn, Danillo, Shandril (some novel examples)
Let me try making up a few:
Tallamir, Mathron, Nymaliss, Lynnerva, Mordwyck

When making up random names like that, it's best if there is a short way to say the name. (Like how Jonathan is Jon) For example, Mathron could be called Mat, and Lynnerva could be called Lyn.

For last names, you can use any of the ideas above or take two common words and mash them together. Oakheart, Strongbow, Ironstar, Stormwind

Commoners might have last names that describe their job:
Potter, Baker, Smith, Hunter

Hope this helps!
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Postby ottoatm » Mon Nov 28, 2005 5:50 am

Rougue27 did a great job describing some tactics for it all... if I were to add anything, it would be the following websites:

http://www.chriswetherell.com/hobbit/

http://www.chriswetherell.com/elf/

Although I might not use the names the site gives me, I do get some great ideas from them, and some unique possibilities arise.

Can't wait to see your work~
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Postby Maedhros » Mon Nov 28, 2005 7:38 am

Oh, I saw this topic on CW first and replied there but I migt as well write it here too...

Hmm... good question. I have never had any problems with names actually. I love names :lol: So for me they just pop up more or less. But one really important thing in my opinion is to have some basics of the language the names come from. Make them look and sound vaguely similar. Otherwise it might end up annoying. If one person is called Xochicalco (and why on earth did I choose an Aztec name.....) and another John and they are supposed to be countrymen I at least would raise an eyebrow. Far too often I see this kind of things (maybe not this extreme but I think you understand what I mean).

I often base my fantasynames on real languages. In my story for example I have revealed three different "languages" so far:

Mitsuyama, Saneyama etc - Clearly a Japanese connection

Gorthein, Aethelwulf etc - This is more like som kind of old german/english

Maedrin, Ceridwyn, Llwrlws, Caer Blaedd etc - Clearly based on Welsh

(BTW, I will include a little pronunciation guide on my site :wink: )

So, the conclusion is IMO to really put work into your cultures and languages to make them seem realistic.
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Postby Luís » Mon Nov 28, 2005 1:27 pm

Well, depends of what tipe of names you want: nasal names or silibing names, plus others.
Nasal: Use letters like "C", "O", "R","U".........

Silibing: Use letters that use less nose, like "N", "L", "I", "E"..............

Examples: Nasal- Cordumanel...
Silibing- Nialúmienaru...
Mixes-Côrnial, Nucaren...

Hope it helps.
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Postby Suvied » Mon Nov 28, 2005 3:55 pm

If you want names with meaning use a translator like babelfish and just type in common words or phrases to describe your character. For example, a hero I thought up is basically the hand or God or a man used to judge others by God. The spanish word for hands is manos. So, my character is simply Manos.

You could combine words to form a longer or more meaning full name by dropping out letters yet retaining the essential letters needed. Savhuman (pronounced like Saruman), Saviman or Save' Manity could be a hero which is the savior of humanity.

Be creative and go with what sounds best to you. Avoid huge unpronoucable names unless the fiction culture of the person practices such. For really long real life names check out some of the Native American or Hawian names.

Another great place to look is in a history book. Pull out the names you like the best and use them.

Children, 4-8 can often come up with great imaginative names. George Lucas did this for many of the SW jedi names . . . on second thought GL is a bonehead don't follow his example. :roll:

Bottom line is use what sounds coolest to you.
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Postby The Hordesman » Mon Nov 28, 2005 3:57 pm

Copying my post on CW:

Warning; using this site in large portions is NOT considered creative. :P

http://www.seventhsanctum.com/index.php

Though, Ive never used it myself, usually I take names that just hit my mind during different times. Gilneas is actually a nation in the Warcraft universe, but that is as thefty as it gets. ;)

Another way is to take an allready existing name and change some letters...

Alexander
Aledander
Aledeander
Deander
Ander
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Postby Glencaer » Mon Nov 28, 2005 7:31 pm

Just to add something I've been using - giving different regions different types of names, especially how a familial name is used. I find that this can give your world more depth and interest.

For instance, one region would have firstnames followed by the father's name (Thofir son of Dunid), whereas another region would give the originating village (Thofir of Oakstone).

Another would be that everyone from a given clan would have the same suffix to their name (Oavin, Porvin, Suvin for boys/ Oava, Porva, Suva for girls). This can simplify the naming process by creating a set number of common prefix-names (Oa-, Por-, Su-) and a set number of suffix-clans (-vin, -tin, -kur). Then you have the many possible names for different characters (Oavin, Oatin, Oakur, Porvin, Portin, Porkur, etc).

I also found that ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, and Babylonians had interesting and unusual names that have a vaguely medieval-fantasy sound to them (such as Sargon).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_of_Sumer

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Postby JacobS » Mon Nov 28, 2005 10:21 pm

Wow, I'm surprised that I already got this many answers. Some nice Ideas, I will probably use a lot of them when I get around to starting a story. I will most likly start a new thread for this, but does anyone have any tasty tidbits that may make a story (in general) more interesting, some stories I've come up with in the past have been sort of bland, oh well...
Later!
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Postby Lord Nev » Wed Dec 07, 2005 2:45 am

I thinks Anders is in Sword of Shannara. Toivo? That's prity kewl. Timo? Unique. All in all, Finnish vs. Swedish is very unique. It'll be original for sure! Keep it up. PM me if u need any more help.
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Postby Shadow » Wed Dec 07, 2005 3:37 am

What a good topic. I don't have a source for my names for my story is more of a fantasy then an authentic tale. :roll: For instance I just used the name Bremmar. I would make up names that sound good yet use these resources as well.
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Postby Suvied » Wed Dec 07, 2005 2:54 pm

JacobS wrote:I will most likly start a new thread for this, but does anyone have any tasty tidbits that may make a story (in general) more interesting, some stories I've come up with in the past have been sort of bland, oh well...
Later!


Make it human. People are all different and because of that they cause different things to happen. Greed, jealousy, love, anger, apathy, zealous, fearful, overwhelmed, hateful, exhausted, lonely, suspicious, guilty or any other emotion will cause a character to behave entirely different in any situation from another in the same. Give characters a little history to explain why they are like they are. Your main character could have been unfairly beaten as a child by his father and is now resentful and disreguards male authority figures. His traveling friend might be the total opposite and be a strong male authority like figure which is going to cause friction between them. Yet, because of a relationship lasting 20+ years niether will break the friendship. Later in the story they could through whatever situation you put them through resolve their differences and learn to be better people. Just make them human. Superheroes are good for only a short time. People relate with weakness and failure.

Make it real, not only with your characters but also with the story. If you have monsters in the mountains near town, the town would have some sort of defense to drive them off or keep them out like a wall. If the town isn't very big it probably would not have stayed with monsters nearby. You would not see a small undefended town with monsters nearby unless the monsters just moved in or are interested in hiding more than eating peasants. Use logic, be creative but ground it in some logic to make it reasonably believable. Be consistant with your level of fantasy. Make it real.

Make it varied. Even if you want a dark and dismal story toss in some humor or light hearted spots to make it more varied. A cheery Robinhood type story should have some serious or tense areas to give a story more emotion. Constant trudging and battling not only doesn't make sense but it gets old fast.

As far as actual plot, there is nothing new you can do. A new way to present it or a more varied design but it ill still end up being a different version or patchwork of sroties before it. You might have an underdog, a love triangle, a rivalry, an evil overlord bent on world domination or any other idea but they all have been done before. So you should just write what you think would be cool. Complex or simple just have fun with it.

In summary

make it human
make it real
make it varied
have fun with a plot
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Postby Maedhros » Wed Dec 07, 2005 4:00 pm

Suvied wrote:
JacobS wrote:I will most likly start a new thread for this, but does anyone have any tasty tidbits that may make a story (in general) more interesting, some stories I've come up with in the past have been sort of bland, oh well...
Later!


Make it human. People are all different and because of that they cause different things to happen. Greed, jealousy, love, anger, apathy, zealous, fearful, overwhelmed, hateful, exhausted, lonely, suspicious, guilty or any other emotion will cause a character to behave entirely different in any situation from another in the same. Give characters a little history to explain why they are like they are. Your main character could have been unfairly beaten as a child by his father and is now resentful and disreguards male authority figures. His traveling friend might be the total opposite and be a strong male authority like figure which is going to cause friction between them. Yet, because of a relationship lasting 20+ years niether will break the friendship. Later in the story they could through whatever situation you put them through resolve their differences and learn to be better people. Just make them human. Superheroes are good for only a short time. People relate with weakness and failure.

Make it real, not only with your characters but also with the story. If you have monsters in the mountains near town, the town would have some sort of defense to drive them off or keep them out like a wall. If the town isn't very big it probably would not have stayed with monsters nearby. You would not see a small undefended town with monsters nearby unless the monsters just moved in or are interested in hiding more than eating peasants. Use logic, be creative but ground it in some logic to make it reasonably believable. Be consistant with your level of fantasy. Make it real.

Make it varied. Even if you want a dark and dismal story toss in some humor or light hearted spots to make it more varied. A cheery Robinhood type story should have some serious or tense areas to give a story more emotion. Constant trudging and battling not only doesn't make sense but it gets old fast.

As far as actual plot, there is nothing new you can do. A new way to present it or a more varied design but it ill still end up being a different version or patchwork of sroties before it. You might have an underdog, a love triangle, a rivalry, an evil overlord bent on world domination or any other idea but they all have been done before. So you should just write what you think would be cool. Complex or simple just have fun with it.

In summary

make it human
make it real
make it varied
have fun with a plot


Excellent, I have to second that.

I think the first part is the most important. Put work into your characters and make them behave in a human manner.
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Postby The Hordesman » Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:33 pm

Lord Nev wrote:I thinks Anders is in Sword of Shannara.


I think its one of the most common names in this nation. :wink:

Study psychology a little, it will make it easier to make human characters. Of course, some non-human characters are quite interesting too, but remember make them have a reason, Sauron-types (Archevils) are BOOORRIINNGGG. For a while ago I would say they would be interesting but Ive began losing my hope in these guys.
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Like Suvied said, make it human. Even "superheroes" like Orlan in my story have his weakness, he revived his brother only because his close bondage to his last family member, not because he was a rentless murderer and tyrant, something he has been suffering for in the rest of his life.
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Postby Sir Terrance » Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:36 pm

I didn't read the entire thread, so sorry if this was already mentioned. One way is to take a normal name, and then spell it backwards.

Example:

Graydon -> Nodyarg
Rob -> Bor

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