Names are the essence of who a person or character are. It is their first source of identity and individuality. Bonds and relationships rely on names to solidify the connection people make in everyday life. It is the way in which someone remembers who you are, it gets someone’s attention, and it influences the way we show respect.
At the start of writing, I didn’t consider using interesting or thought-provoking names. I never understood the importance of a name given to a character. Now that I’ve written many stories, I’ve learned that the name is going to be attached to emotional baggage and can draw anger, sadness, or happiness when I read or hear it. It wasn’t until I wrote more of my fantasy books (hopefully, I’ll be able to share those in the future), that I delved into names and why they shouldn’t be chosen willy-nilly, but have a true meaning (whether for the character, or the author).
To create unique and meaningful names, I had to find a way to grasp something from thin air, and build it together. I’ve looked a little into linguistics, focusing on names and language development, but when it boils down to it, names have to be appeasing to the eye but still be easy to read and say.
I eventually found a way that gets me something different every time and it’s fun! I used to ask friends and family to assist, but it wasn’t random enough. So, now, how I make names is I determine the length I’m wanting (this is probably a mood thing, over anything else), find a number randomizer (put at 26 [I’m an English speaker]), and basically hit submit until I get the number of letters I want. Once I have my letters, I play scrabble until something rolls off the tongue.
I have to be able to say the name aloud without struggling with pronunciation. I’ve read books that it’s difficult to tell how the author wanted names to be said. There shouldn’t be confusion like that. Readability is the most important when writing. I get some neat names!
My favourite name through this process is, Jardimec, from my work-in-progress Faery Tale. It just rolls off the tongue, and it’s fun to yell or softly whisper.
What I have to remember, as a writer, is a name doesn’t need to be unique to be fascinating. Sometimes, just the story on how the name came to be is the most interesting part. Such as, when I started writing The Egyptian Heir, I was actually walking and doing my paper route (again, 13-years-old at that point). I walked by a fountain. For some reason, that fountain resonated with me. I used to speed swim and am a fish in the water. I reached out, touched it, and the Waters were created. Many characters’ names have changed during the many years from the start of my journey into writing, but the Waters’ family name has never changed.
Never forget that a name holds power!