When it comes to creating names it’s hit or miss for me. Sometimes I know right away what I want to name a character, a city, etc. But what happens when I don’t? Or can’t choose between two or more names?
For the latter, sometimes I ask you, my followers, through a poll? Like this one.:
For the former I do one of several things. But first let’s start with names I know I want to use. Usually the names I’ve created pop into my head. For my young adult fantasy the female main character has the name I’ve always wanted to use if I had a daughter.
Like the heroine in The Soul Traveler Kyna Lynn James. Why? I liked the name Kyna (pronounced Kee-nah). Her middle name also popped into my head as well. But the best part is what her name means.
In Gaelic Kyna means intelligent. And Lynn means lake, waterfall or pool. Which works well because water symbolizes the source of life. And according to backstory because she also has the ability to travel to other worlds. An ability that was once respected. Because her predecessors once helped guide beings to other worlds for a new, better life. And though Kyna is intelligent she also often acts rashly or without forethought.
As you can see I like using the meaning behind a name as clues. I even like to look up the name meanings behind my favorite characters. For example Harry in English can mean house protector or army commander. Fitting right?
Another consideration about names is pronouncement. If it’s hard for readers to pronounce or is easy mispronounce then it gets cut from the list. What list? Well aside from asking for opinions when I can’t think of a name I make a list of names. For example, in my fantasy world of Harbingers of El Tinor, I had called one country the Badlands. I thought it was so cool and people would know what it was.
Then a college writing friend put in his two cents on how it was a bit cliche. He was right. And it painted an image that the country was a barren, desolate wasteland. When theirs is rich in soil, culture and money. All the while their country’s looked down upon because they don’t have a god. So I went through a series of names until I landed on one that felt right.
What process do you use to create names in your fiction? Do you write lists? Research the meaning behind the names? Or do you do something else?