Author Steps – What’s in a Name?
Posted on July 23, 2013
Since today’s posts seem to be about names, I thought I’d post about one of my writing hurdles. I have an issue with names. No, I’m not talking about pen names like in the post about Rowling’s pseudonym Robert Gailbraith. My issue is with naming characters.
I’ve got this WIP that I’m writing where I’m having a ball playing in the world that I’m building. It’s a stand alone piece, so the intent is for it to introduce my sense of magic and supernatural in the basic world that I can extend to all works I’ll be putting out there.
Mortal characters tend to be hard to nail down a name but doable, especially since I have an awesome book with names and meanings. But what can I do when naming all manners of different supernatural creatures? Perhaps I’ve made it hard because there are so many different species in my work. They make for a fun bunch, but I’m tired of having place holding terms instead of names.
So why is a name important? For me, it’s important because regardless of how well I know or am getting to know these characters, a name feels like it gives the character identity. Also, with such a wide cast of characters, I realized that I have some habits that I need to break in terms of naming. Like one-syllable names. I tend to like them a bit too much.
I’m also wondering whether or not to make up naming systems for the different species, which opens a whole new can of worms. For example in the dark elf worlds, which you may know from Dungeons and Dragons, RA Salvatore, Skyrim, or many other places, some of them have naming systems. Is it wise to create my own in order to name one character?
For trolls, do their names need to sound like, well, a troll’s name? Or can I follow in Tolkien‘s footsteps and have a Burt, Tom, or William-type name? Some of my characters are mythological beings that come with names we already recognize. I love those characters. But I feel a little like I can’t just keep using “(Troll name here)” all throughout my work. I suppose I can start using words and applying an anagram system to them to come up with innovative names. Whatever I use, it’s getting to the point where it needs to happen soon. My babies, I mean, my characters need names!
So while the world waits for the newest royal baby to get its new royal name, I will attempt to start bringing my characters more fully into existence with some names for them. Then they can mill around in my head with their “Hi, my name is ______” tags on until I put them out into the world all published and shiny.