Fantasy names and naming characters in general

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xiamenese
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Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:13 am Post

"There is only one thing worse than playing tennis together, and that is playing tennis on your own - MONTY PYTHON" ...

I once saw a young man in one of the parks in Chiswick playing Rugby on his own ... that's got to be even worse than playing tennis on your own!


:shock:

Mark

Hu
Hugh
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Wed Nov 14, 2007 9:34 pm Post

Jot wrote:On a less serious note, I know of people who use the names that appear on spam emails (was that mentioned on this forum somewhere...I can't remember - I have severe CRAFT).

After a while, you end up checking the sender's names on all your spam, just in case you get a great character (today I got one from "Heriberto Horner" who wants to sell me a rolex).


A cracker has just arrived in my inbox: "Blondal Haraldur". Not writing fantasy myself, I offer it to others. :)

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Siren
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Wed Nov 14, 2007 10:31 pm Post

Hugh wrote:A cracker has just arrived in my inbox: "Blondal Haraldur". Not writing fantasy myself, I offer it to others. :)

He's already in my novel! How do I go about starting legal proceedings for plagiarism? (OK, I lie. But it's not far off... and I'm not writing fantasy either. Or comedy. Oh dear. Maybe I should change his name.)

Yours,
Worried

Ma
Matthew Graybosch
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Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:39 pm Post

Monkeyboy wrote:So how do people cope with character naming?


I'm not sure I can help you, since I do urban fantasy with a heavy dose of sci-fi. Almost all of my character names are relatively normal. The ones that aren't tend to come from heavy metal albums. For example, I have a villain named 'Ahura Imaginos' (but he uses the name 'Isaac Magnin' around humans). The "Imaginos" part refers to the Blue Öyster Cult album that inspired the character.

I agree with you concerning the use of apostrophes in names. It's annoying, and it's a pain in the ass to figure out how to pronounce such name when reading out loud, even if the author does provide a half-assed pronunciation guide. Of course, this brings me to another beef I have with fantasy writers: unless you're a professor of linguistics of philology, it's probably a bad idea to even attempt to invent a language.

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Jacqi Corgan
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Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:03 am Post

I've found it helpful to go to those "name your baby" websites, especially the ones that let you type in the meaning you'd like your "baby's" name to have. They'll generate lists of names that have that meaning, and you can tweak them at will. I often plug in the character's dominant traits, and see what I get.

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Wock
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Thu Feb 14, 2008 3:57 pm Post

One trick I do is to take a common name from now a days and play with the spelling

Example:

I took the name "Emily" for one of my characters

and did this

Em'alei

So many times you can generate "sci-fi/fantatsy" names from current names and just play with the spelling a tad to make it look "old fashioned".

Baby name books and websites and a little "phonetic" spelling and you ca have traditional sci fi names that are easily read.

Or just call everyone Bob. :-)
The wheel is turning but the hamster is still dead.

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Matthew Graybosch
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Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:38 pm Post

Wock wrote:I took the name "Emily" for one of my characters

and did this

Em'alei


My wife has a bunch of books by Elizabeth Haydon. The name of Haydon's heroine is (and I am not joking) "Emily". You don't have to use terribly fancy names. Hell, one of the supporting characters in my project had the name "Eddie Van Helsing", until my wife insisted that I change it.
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PJS
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Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:52 pm Post

I have a friend (I'm sure she won't mind being mentioned) whose mother told the birth-certificate functionary that the baby's name was "Dorothy." Said worthy, incompetent, illiterate, or perhaps hung over, typed up the document "Doroyth," a circumstance no one in the family noticed for some time. When later it was noted, they asked to have it changed, and were told they'd have to go to court and have a judge, etc. Already overburdened by the bureaucracy, the family said to hell with it. And Doroyth she remains to this day. (They pronounce it da-ROY-th.)

Phil
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Wock
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Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:32 pm Post

Interesting name story.

There was a professional Skater who's name was

Natas Kaupus

Now many people began a hoopla years ago because

NATAS

spelled backward was SATAN which of course drove people to fear and gloom and doom.


Natas was intervied and the truth of his unique name came out.

When his parents were pregnant with him they thought they were having a girl. They thought on many names and it was a grueling process but they finally came to agree on the name

NATASHA

Now when he was born you could imagine the shock. Their poorr little Natasha was a boy!.

So because they spent so much time with the name and could not think of anything else to agree, knowing they could not have a boy named NATASHA they dropped the HA and named him NATAS never thinking of its spelling backward.
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Jacqi Corgan
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Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:47 pm Post

At least they did better than the parents one of our friends saw when she was a delivery-room nurse. Some of the names she saw on birth certificates included "Female" - and worse! And then, there were the infamous "Jell-o" twins: Lemongelo and Orangelo. I am not kidding!

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antony
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Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:06 am Post

My own not-unique-but-certainly-unusual spelling came about because my mother was a fan of Tony Curtis, and wanted me to be able to shorten my name appropriately. Apparently, no-one told her that "Anthony" gets shortened to "Tony" just fine... :\

(She even considered giving me "Curtis" as a middle name, but thankfully, clearer heads prevailed.)
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Jacqi Corgan
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Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:24 am Post

I'm right there with you. My mother admired Jacqueline Kennedy, and wanted me to have the "Jackie" nickname. She didn't like the sound of how Jacqueline is pronounced in French, and when she found Jacquenette in a footnote to Jacqueline in a book of baby names, that's what I got. I figured my nickname was my own possession, and tinkered with the spelling accordingly.

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Eric
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Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:36 pm Post

*sorry, read post below*
Last edited by Eric on Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Eric
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Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:39 pm Post

well...you could just avoid the stereotypical fantasy names. take a historical approach.

if you know the setting of your story, even if it is totally original and not based on any geographic location in existence, think of a country that even mildly represents your fantasy world. than research names used in that country around the time your book will take place. even if you don't use those exact names, you can get a feel for what your characters should be called.

i hated coma names! but an elf named Carl just wouldn't fit...so i understand your struggle.

as for names in general. i usually name them after friends. the main female name i use is Elizabeth (my girlfriends middle name). so try that. and once people find out that their name is in your book, they will show their friends and make their friends read it. BAM, instant publicity.
Best of Luck!
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Radish
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Wed Mar 05, 2008 9:41 pm Post

The 'fantasy naming game' is driving me batty --

It's becoming more frequent that whenever I come up with what I believe to be an uber-spiffy name -- character, place, whatever -- that there's already a designer drug or a car bearing that name. It makes for a bit of craziness, it does.

And I have to agree with those who've voiced -- here and elsewhere -- discontent with the wildly impossible-to-speak-aloud names. I can't say them without spraining my tongue, and I need to be able to pronounce those names so I can 'hear' the dialogue in my head. A sad little hang-up, I know.

But whenever such characters are mentioned between the quotation marks it throws me out of the story, every time without fail -- that's why I always try to spell names as fauxnetiklee as possible.
what was that middle part again?