How to name your characters

Every time an author writes a new book names for all the characters are needed. The meanings of names are very important to the personality of the characters. If you want your character to be a strong giant, don’t name him Mouse. If you want a slow shy character don’t name him/her Brain.

How do many authors get inspiration for their names?

One of the best places to find names is still The Baby Book of Names. However, I have found many sites on the Internet with names, and many of them display their meaning. Another great place is oriental, Hindu, and Indian name books or web sites. You will be surprised at the many old names contained in the bible, and how perfect they are for some of the best fantasy characters I have seen.

Since I write medieval fantasy I like my names particularly different and with an old flavor to them. Every time I read I paid attention to the names of the characters and verify if they will work for my particular story. No this doesn’t mean that I copy them from other authors; they are 100% mine.  How do I do it then? Usually by accident.

I read the name and it will suggest a pronunciation to me. Then my mind says cool, but I would have spell it this way. That is all it takes to have a new name. Other times I have put two names together. For example Sarianni was made by combining the names of the two grandmothers of the character: Saria and Annia. Another time I reversed the name of one character to make another: Nathaniel ecame Leinahtan, Leinah or Leinahtany.

I also asked some of my nieces and nephews which names they liked most. It took a bit of doing but I turned them into names worthy of my elfs and mankind characters.

Here are some results I obtained from these techniques:

Emily = Emelen                        Christie = Christalyn                                    Samuel = Siamuel

Jessica = Jesikal                        Donovan = Donian                                    Anna = Annia

John = Johesin                                    Michael = Michail                                    Sultan = Zoltan

Alex = Axel                                    Adriana = Adren                                    David = Dellin

These are my own inventions and most of them are used in my trilogy. I am sure you can come up with many more on your own. You can do the same with any name that you like or use its meaning as a name by itself.

In my case my characters usually came to me with name and personality and it amazed me how fit the one is for the other. Change some vowels and see what you get. Usually you will know right away if the name fits the character or not. A well fitting name will make your character; a wrong name will destroy it.

One more thing to have present when you name your characters, a very hard name will be hard to remember and your readers will miss your great tale by just trying to figure how to say it. I saw a name that I liked and it was spelled Sean. When I used it just like that in my book, my husband pronounced it very distinctly from what I had thought. It was like day and night, so I decided to have a pronunciation chart. It is all right to have a pronunciation chart in the beginning or end of the book. I do this and have been complimented because of it. I have also received accolades for the great name I use.

Remember names are frequently the first thing a reader sees on the blurb on back of the cover. Your character names are a great advertisement for your book.

Now go and happy writings to you…

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