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44

So Sméagol, Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins do not sound silly? Honestly, don't care too much, if they sound silly or not. First, you can change them, second, I've read some great stories with very silly named characters. If you want make up fantasy names and have no good idea how to start, here is what I do: Find out what the profession/status of this ...


19

If it's original to you, it's original enough. Even if someone else coincidentally made something similar, you will still have your own twist on it enough that it will be yours entirely. This is different from inventions, where the first person to conceive it is the person who gets credit for it. In writing, so long as you're not out-and-out copying from ...


17

If the characters are strong, the name gets molded to the character; if they're weak, it's the other way around. "The World According to Garp" makes a pretty big deal about Garp's name - both the word "Garp" and why Garp's mother selected that name play important roles. Nonetheless, I don't think the story would have had a significantly different impact on ...


17

Here's a set of guidelines I really like: You can refer to each character by the moniker most appropriate to him, so long as you use the same one consistently. Readers will happily accept any name that seems appropriate; the important thing is not to confuse them by referring to one individual by a dozen different tags. You can have different characters ...


13

One bit to add about names: if you use fantasy names (because you are, like, writing a fantasy story ;-), take care to make them consistent. Meaning names of people belonging to the same race/people/whatever need to sound/feel "similar" in style. Hard to give an example (I'm bad at finding fantasy names myself :D), but... well, if you give all characters ...


13

Any species you invent will have characteristics. Find yourself a creature with similar characteristics, get a good dictionary, and follow the etymology. Using you 'hawk' example, the etymology says that the OE was habuc or heafoc; midle Dutch was hawic or havic, High German was habuh and Middle German habech: the Norse was hauk-r. Take any of those, and ...


12

It isn't just you. Storytelling is an old art. (Anyone with a need to look that up could let us know just how old.) When you worry that your newest mind-blowing twist has been seen before, it's probably not for nothing. The same goes for themes and character traits. Even Grendel's mother can't be credited as the first character ever to lose her life in ...


12

From what I remember from my teenage years (yes, it was some time away :) ), I would never have been turned off by hard to pronounce foreign names. . The sort of teenager who is attracted to a book about ancient Egypt is the sort of teenager who will not be turned off by foreign names. Besides, almost everyone has seen The Mummy( the movie, not the woman ...


11

IANAL disclaimer but generally character names themselves cannot be copyrighted. They may be trademarked but only if the literary work/movie/or a related product were named after the character. So, trademark would only come into play for secondary characters in widely merchandised works. In theory you'd be completely safe as long as your characters ...


11

No parent takes naming their child as an indifferent thing. Before the baby is even born, the name we give the child is an identity that will stick with him/her for the rest of that baby's life. Or to quote Orson Scott Card: "A name is part of who a person is. It's the label that stands for everything you've done and everything you are." (Characters & ...


11

You need to do a lot of research if you're going to write a convincing historical novel. Part of that research ought to introduce you to common names from the period. But your question might well have been rephrased as "How do you get the details right in historical fiction?" And the answer to that as well is: research. Authors of good historical fiction ...


10

No, it doesn't work, and no, I don't think you're using the technique correctly. When you use descriptions attached to someone's name, it is to differentiate them from someone else with that name. To use a stereotypical example, take an Italian neighborhood with five friends all named Joseph. One will go by Joey D (for his last name). The second is Joe the ...


9

Just from the information you've provided, it seems you're creating a convoluted and potentially confusing situation for no good reason. If, however, this is important to the story, you can always refer to "Earth" (formerly "New Earth") and to "Old Earth". Using a slightly different version of the word would work, but I believe that's already been done: ...


9

Technically you cannot copyright a plot. However, you can copyright a particular instance of that plot as long as it is not based on an older work in the public domain. In your Harry Potter example if every chapter had exactly the same incidents and more or less the same dialogue with slightly altered character names you would probably lose in court trying ...


8

Another writer friend of mine went through NaNoWriMo last year, writing furiously to make her 50,000 words, without naming her characters at all. Naming isn't easy. Sometimes a character will have a name that fits, perhaps, but often not. If you find it difficult put it off. Don't let it get in the way of your writing. Instead write. If necessary, get ...


8

Rather than focusing on generating names - a process that's usually somewhat arbitrary - perhaps examine the purpose of these names in your story. There's a school of thought that goes like this: World building is an exercise whose purpose is to help the writer tell a good story. Correspondingly, the design of a species in SF or fantasy should contribute ...


8

You have a few things going on here: 1) If the story is first-person, your problem is solved. We rarely address ourselves by our given names in internal monologues. 2) If your story is in third person, then you have a cultural issue. The children may not get official Names (Starfall, Willow, Runs With Scissors) until they do something to earn it. But you ...


7

I find much easier to first imagine the character, see it wading through the planned story-line, get emotionally involved with its (mis)adventures, then I can think a name that matches that stronger image of the character I've built. If you don't really feel your character alive, it really doesn't call for a proper name (yet). Also it may be easier, for ...


7

No matter what idea you have, The Simpsons have already done it. So take your idea and put your own voice behind it. Think about Hollywood and especially it's summer blockbusters. They are all a rehash of the same basic premise, but with a different directorial eye.


7

Wherever your characters are from they will have their own culture and their own language. It's pretty easy to come up with some random names for characters but if you have more than one character then the naming construction for each should be similar, with similar syllable count and length. If they have a culture that respects class hierarchy then they may ...


7

You want names that are entirely alien to us? Let me share a story - interestingly, an entirely real story about a species with most unique names. Learning these names is within grasp of humans, although communicating them by anyone else than given name's bearer is nearly impossible. The species is the horse, and the names are the scents of their breath. ...


7

The specific issues you are dancing around are "Trade mark dilution" and "Libel and slander". Trade mark worries can be mitigated by: not using the exact mark, and not using it in the same industry. Pepsi and Microsoft do not write novels. Using anagrams of the mark is not the same mark. For example, Pepsi-cola and Coca-cola are different trademarks. ...


6

Seventh Sanctum is an excellent one. Serendipity also does good names for fantasy stories. Wizards of the Coast also has one on their own site as well. (Could be an invaluable resource for people who play Dungeons & Dragons and other roleplaying board games that require names. RinkWorks also has some interesting name generations. TheForge has one as ...


6

Use variations on names from Ancient history/mythology. Greek, or Norse, or Mayan, or whatever, pick your flavour. This can give you a very wide variety of fictional names that are still similar to each other (for a rich, "realistic" feel). Most of my "fantasy world" style character/place names come from my old testament reading. This is a complete list ...


6

This passage reads like an info dump—a lecture from the author to the reader, with no strong purpose in the story. If you could name the planet something else with no loss to the story, that tells me that the name isn't important to the story. If I'm right about that, then call it something else, and delete this passage. If the name is important to the ...


6

Take care to look for patterns in how you choose which people are referred to by which names. A few years ago, I reread all of Isaac Asimov's Foundation/Robot/Empire novels, and commented to my wife, "All of the men are always referred to by their last names. All of the women and robots are always referred to by their first names. I wonder what's up with ...


6

I found that when I was reading a collection of Grimm's fairytales — just translated, not the bowdlerized Disney versions — a whole bunch of them have nameless characters. The King, The Queen, The Prince; the baker's daughter, the tailor's apprentice. Puss in Boots is the only character with a name in his story; the rest are the miller's son, the ...


5

Try this to put the importance of character names into perspective: Begin with nothing more than a person's name, and then write the story. Does she truly end up typecast as the similarly-named girl you knew in fourth grade? Or does she take on different attributes - do you give her reactions and thoughts fit for the character you're creating? More likely ...


5

Although it's been answered already (and it's a good answer), I'd recommend you reconsider your chosen course of action and think about the implications. First of all, it would be highly unlikely for people who were originally from "our" Earth to only mention "Earth" using the Latin phrase. All their history books and reference materials - anything to do ...


5

Don't dumb down. A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a dictionary for? If you're that concerned, add a list of character names with pronunciations at the beginning or end of the story. (If you have a sprawling list of characters, like LOTR or Game of Thrones, a one- or two-sentence bio won't hurt either.)



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