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29 Days of Writing: Day 3 - Joelle's misc
January 12th, 2011
10:01 am
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29 Days of Writing: Day 3

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you write about fictional places)?




With a great deal of trouble! At least, that was how it was for human and hyarmi character names 10 years ago. Now, thankfully, I have enough on hand that I can reference trends/locality and reuse already used names so things are a bit easier. But a lot of it was floundering around trying to find something that 'felt' right, and back in those days, I'd sometimes draw on the hundreds of names I'd encounter on my job for an insurance company (but always change them at least a little). Glad I don't have to do that anymore. Most characters are named after their ancestors, heroes in stories, names that sound nice, names that have an association that is pleasing, and those names can have different spellings/variations/pronunciations based on region. The avarii are a whole lot easier, as their names are purely descriptive and driven largely (but not completely) by appearance.

Places are a lot easier as well. The background of my world is a bit simpler, for one. Most place names are descriptive, but there aren't the layers of different languages or conquering civilizations to cast a veneer of exotic unfamiliarity over them. For example, I live near the Mississippi River...which is so called because the native Ojibwe named it 'misi-ziibi' or 'Great River.' In my world, 'pre-Babel,' the humans speak one language, or dialects thereof, so they would simply call it 'Great River.' The hyarmi, conditioned by a long shared history with the avarii that I won't get into here, would simply translate that meaning into their own language, and call it 'Great River' in their tongue as well.

This could turn into an essay all too quickly, but it's just my long way of saying that place names are largely descriptive (or have an origin in an incident or are named for a famous person) but I don't pull out the fancy, unpronounceable long-worded place-names as is done in a number of epic fantasy novels. That just doesn't work with my world's backstory.

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