Several years ago I participated in something called 30 days of Writing Questions – a question a day for 30 days. Since I don’t have anything better to do on Fridays I thought I’d resurrect it, only I’m going to do once question a week. What the heck, if nothing else it’ll be fun, right? And just to make it even more exciting…I was able to locate my original answers, so I’m including them as well. It should be interesting to see if, or how much, my answers have changed.
How do you come up with names for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?
The names for my main characters usually come pretty easily – I can’t start writing about them if I don’t know their names. In Driving Into Forever, I knew from the beginning that my main characters were named Hannah and Kelvin. With the story I’m editing right now, Forever and For Always, the name Treasure Beaumont just popped into my head one day and I started writing. I didn’t know anything about her, except for her name.
Secondary characters, however, can be a whole different story. While Hannah’s best friend was named Sara and hung onto her name from the beginning, the character of Nathaniel underwent many name changes until he decided to hook up with Sara in the sequel. She must have a steadying influence on him. ;-)
Kelvin’s brother and his Aunt also went through several name changes. I try not to have my characters have similar sounding names and if I’m stuck I’ll pick a letter of the alphabet and consult a baby-naming site on the internet. This helps, too, if I’m looking for a name with a particular ethnic feel to it.
As far as naming places goes . . . this is much harder for me. I write about imaginary places mostly – different dimensions, different planets – and these are much harder to name. Again, I try not to have places sound all the same, but it’s not always easy. In my on-line serial I name one planet Sigma Alpha IV, which I think I stole from Star Trek. :-)
Not much has changed really as far as the answer to this question goes. Most character names come fairly easily to me. I’ve gotten better at naming the secondary characters – I’m able to find the right name for them and stick to it.
I have several “name the baby” sites bookmarked and when I’m looking for a name I often consult them. This is especially helpful if I’m looking for a specific kind of name because you can do searches by ethnicity.
Places are still kind of iffy though. In my Elemental series, two of the stories take place on the same world, which I don’t think I gave a name to. And the fourth book also takes place on an unnamed world, although I had a lot of fun naming the five major mining operations.
The magical world Jessica finds herself on in the Moonstone Chronicles is also unnamed. However, I have maps to keep track of where she’s been and where she’s going, and I’ve been naming places and rivers as I go along. Some of them are pretty lame names, but they’re names nonetheless.
Come to think of it, my Seven Realms series (which is still mostly in the planning stages) is also taking place on an unnamed world. And the realms themselves have names like: Desert Realm; Ocean Realm; Forest Realm . . .
Hmm. Looks like unless someone is actively looking for a specific world, none of my worlds have names. Maybe I should look up one of those name generator thingies online and get working on that. :-D
In case you missed them, here are the previous weeks questions: one, two.