The Writing Process: Naming Characters



   I tend to find myself spending hours working on names for my novel. I believe finding the right name for characters is incredibly important. The idea for Prophecy of Peace actually came to me long after I had my four big players in my head. They became a part of my life long before I knew what adventures and challenges they would be taking on. With those four, naming was not an issue because they came already named. I knew who they were from the moment they slipped into my imagination. 

   But everyone else in the book needed naming. To me, the naming process looked like this....
*I would imagine the character and who they were. 
     What sort of person were they? 
     What role were they going to play in the story?
     How were they going to interact with everyone around them?
     How do others see them? What is their stand-out personality trait?

*I would consider what part of my world they were from
     Which kingdom were they born to?
     Which kingdom do they now live in?
     To whom is their allegiance? 
     What are the key elements of that part of the world?  Culture? Environment? Good or evil?
     Are there similarities between my imagined kingdom and certain areas of the real world?
     
   *After I answered these questions, I was able to flesh out the character and begin the naming process. Each of the twelve kingdoms from the world of my novel(s) shares environmental and geological traits with areas of the real world (the similarities stop there though. culture and belief systems are completely fantastical creations of my own). I would consider these similarities in choosing a culture to base names on (you will find that characters from Daan tend to have Gaelic-inspired names for example). I found that using that system helps to keep a consistency that makes sense for people born in the same kingdom. 

   *This is the point where I would hit the baby naming websites. I searched for names from a specific culture that hold the meaning of who I had determined my character to be, using the questions listed above. I will give two examples from my novel (one is really on the nose, while the other is more abstract, but they both work for me and came from this process)...
  •      Abimelech  is an Hebrew name meaning Father is King (he is king of Khoya Asa and father of Ariyanna)  
  •      Fiamma      is an Italian name meaning Flame  (she is fierce, intense, and capable of both providing protection and causing destruction) 

   So there you have it; my process of naming characters. Let me know in the comments what process you use when naming characters for your own work. 


   

Comments

  1. My friend, you and I are on the same wavelength here!! It takes me a long time to name my characters. I have to find just the right sounding name that hits the ear just right, in terms of where they fall in the world order.

    I had this one general in my story that I just called "the blue guy" for the longest time. He was a former law enforcer who had been promoted to a general in the high court for essentially ridding the kingdom of organized crime. However, the process had completely hardened him. He was paranoid (think Dale Gribble level paranoia), sharp-tongued, and mistrustful of everyone, and had almost an innate sense for picking up on people's deviance.

    One day I was taking a bath, reading the ingredients on my bubble bath, and saw a word: Vitis. That was it! I knew it had to be his name. And thus, "the blue guy" was officially dubbed Vitis Grimstaad.

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    1. That's awesome! Name via bubble bath. That is a really cool name btw

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