Saturday, 6 May 2017

Naming Characters and Places

     I love creating characters, exploring what makes them who they are, discovering their history, families, likes, dislikes, all of it. But I find it difficult to do any of that if I don't have a name for them in my head. The same applies to places in my story-world; without names they're blobs of buildings and nature in my mind. So how do you find a name that fits them perfectly? 

   Today I'll be sharing my personal methods for choosing character or place names! So let's get to it, shall we?


1) Google Translate

   Primarily, I use this method for city and country names when I need one quickly. I'll pull up Google Translate, then choose one or two words that describe my place. I type that into the English section, then translate it to a language that belongs to a similar environment as my country. 

    For example, in my latest project Splintered Crown, I typed in "mountain city" and translated it into German, as the country's geography resembles Germany's. As a result, I got Bergstadt! Usually I switch a few letters around but I loved this one, so I kept it. This method is a quick and easy way to achieve cohesive place names if you stick to one language!


2) Search Name Lists

    I mainly use this method for character names when I want names in a certain language or from a certain region. A quick Google search of, for example, "Turkish names" will have tons of baby name sites coming up. At this point I'm surprised Google isn't giving me baby food ads with the amount I visit.

   Anyway, here are a few sites I highly recommend: Behind the Name, 20,000 Names, and Belly Ballot. Check them out for a little inspiration!

3) Choose a Trait

    If you're in a deep and symbolic mood, and want a name that really identifies your character or place by their values, this is the method for you. Simply search "names meaning ____" to find one that represents your character's soul or country's history. The name could even contain foreshadowing...

4) Alter a Common Name

   It's difficult to find new names that haven't been plastered onto other book characters before. So how about taking one of those common names and putting your own spin on it? In one of my stories I changed Johnathan to Jonathon by taking out one letter and switching another, and in another changed Bird to Byrd. Some languages already do this for you if you look up variants of a name (the Bulgarian form of Samuel is Samuil). 

I made a list of all my characters from Golden Revenge for this post, and this just scratches the surface...I just realised I have a whole ton of characters.
5) String Letters Together

    If none of the above methods work, if none of the names seem to fit, or if you're lacking inspiration to create deep names, pick your favourite letter. Then pick a few vowels and consonants, throw them together, and tada! You have a name. Remember, there's always editing if you want to change it later!


That wraps up today's post; I hoped you enjoyed it! How do you come up with character and place names? Are our methods similar or different? Any name sites you would recommend? 
Let me know in the comments below, and have a marvelous day! <3

30 comments:

  1. I do a lot of these when I create names! I look for something that has some meaning for either the location or the character. Playing with languages is a lot of fun :)

    behindthename.com is a really really really good site for finding stuff like this, by the way. Pintrest has some great links to baby lists too.

    Catherine
    catherinesrebellingmuse.blogspot.com

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    1. Great minds think alike! ;) I love playing with languages too, or even creating my own every now and then. Those are great sites! Thanks so much for commenting Catherine! :D

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  2. I love Pinterest and fantasynamegenerators.com, but at the end of the day, I think my best naming advice is just to never settle. Use placeholder names for as long as you need to, and always keep searching in the back of your head for THE perfect name. It's how I come up with all my characters' names and ensure I'm 100% happy with all of them.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. Those are great resources too! Very true, placeholders can be very useful. I usually don't use them because I *have* to have the perfect name for my characters or places before I write them, but I wish I could! :) Thank you for commenting Ellie! XD

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  3. Such great tips, thank you! I especially love the idea of Choosing a Trait - I'm gonna try that :)

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

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    1. Yay, I'm glad you liked them! :D Thanks so much for commenting Amy! <3

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  4. WHAT THIS IS GREAT. WHY DO YOU HAVE SUCH AMAZING TIPS?! I have the hardest time searching for the perfect character names.

    Thank you again Melissa! This is exactly what I needed, especially since it's first-drafting season for me and I need a list of character names / places / streets at any second.

    Tip 4 is my favorite!

    - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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    1. Awww thank you so much Andrea! I'm so happy my tips could be of use to you! Good luck with first drafting and finding your perfect names. :) Thanks for commenting! XD

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  5. These are a lot of the same things I do when I come up with names, except I've never tried the Google Translate one. I'll keep that in mind. Another site I would recommend is Fantasy Name Generator. It has both real and fantasy names, and you could be playing around with it for hours.
    Also, I totally agree that I'm surprised Google doesn't think I'm pregnant with the amount of baby name sites I visit.

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    1. Haha yeah perhaps I just need to search something about pregnancy and it'll start sending the ads. XD That's very true, Fantasy Name Generator can be tons of fun to play around with (though personally I don't use it that often since I don't like apostrophes in my names). :) Thanks so much for commenting Rachel!

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  6. These are all valid methods. I recently wrote a fantasy satire short story where there was a character called 'Giriccil'kinaedihih' where I literally rolled my fingers over the keyboard and added vowels. Contemporary stories are easy (and I have gotten baby ads which is SO FUNNY), and I do the 'change a few letters' thing and otherise rely on my imagination.
    Shanti @Virtually Read

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    1. Ohmygosh that's great! I wish I got them so I could take a screenshot. XD Wow that is quite some name, but it sounds like it would work great for your satire piece. What was it about? :) True, contemporary is much easier! Thank you so much for commenting Shanti!

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  7. GOOGLE TRANSLATE IS MY FAVORITE. *nods vigorously* I also love Word Hippo. It gives you multiple words and more detailed meanings. Nameberry is great too! And movie credits are fun to watch. You can find the weirdest names ...

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    1. YAY FOR GOOGLE TRANSLATE! It's great. :D Ooh Word Hippo. I haven't heard of that one but I'll have to check it out; thanks for the recommendation! Oh my, movie credits are the best! Lots of name inspiration there. XD Thanks so much for commenting Hannah! <3

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  8. I so struggle with names, hehe, so this is GREAT! I love switching out letters and using baby name sites, mostly. I use nameberry.com because it also suggests related/similar names, which can be helpful. And it has a list of popular uses of the name so I can check and see if it's like a celebrity or another famous fictional character and then not double up.😂 #helpful
    But aghhh, I sometimes write whole outlines without knowing my protagonist's name!!! I'm so gad at names.😂

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    1. Glad I could be of help! XD That's super helpful that they have a list of its popular uses. I didn't know that Nameberry had that feature, so I shall have to explore their site a little bit more... Thanks for the recommendation! :) Do you use placeholders in your outlines when you don't have your character names yet? That sounds tricky! Good luck with your writing and thank you for commenting Cait! :D

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  9. This post is EXTREMELY helpful thank you :D I always have the hardest time naming places and characters, I don't want it to be too generic but at the same time it shouldn't be something that even I can't pronounce :P When all else fails, I just resort to baby name sites, because my characters are practically my babies right?

    ~ noor

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    1. Yay, I'm very happy it was helpful! :) Exactly, it needs to strike a balance where it's unique but not frustrating for the reader to read. Haha yes they are our babies, absolutely! Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting Noor! XD

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  10. I struggle finding the perfect names for my characters - or even names I can use until I find the /perfect/ one. Place names are even harder; when I was younger I'd just string some letters together, but now I love connecting place names to worldbuilding - WHY would the town be called that? Can I fit a historical event or legend in?

    I'll definitely be going through all your tips!

    Jem Jones

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    1. Thanks Jem! I also struggle with the same thing: not being able to write characters or places unless I know their names. That's a great question to ask when creating a name; I might have to steal that one from you. :) Thank you so much for commenting!

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  11. I always have trouble finding names for my characters, so I'm pretty sure google thinks I'm pregnant! :P

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    1. Haha I think Google is having an internal debate about whether I'm pregnant, as I often go on massive name hunts in bursts over the year! Thanks for commenting Gray! :D

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  12. Google translate is my go to. XD I use it all the time! Great post!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you! :D Google Translate is wonderful for names, translating not so much! XD Thanks so much for commenting! <3

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  13. If you'd like to do it, I tagged you for the Sunshine Blogger over here. :)

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  14. Thanks for the suggestions!

    https://tizziestidbits.wordpress.com

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    1. You're welcome Grace! Thanks for commenting! :)

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  15. I use Behind The Name and other baby names sites a lot, too! I probably could have saved myself some time using Google Translater though...haha, I don't know why I didn't think to use it!

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    1. Well, now you know, right? XD Hopefully it can help you out! Thanks so much for commenting! <3

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