I seem to have a slight problem: I can't make up names. I've searched the web, I've tried talking gibberish to my self in the hope that something good will pop up and say hello, I've even asked friends or relatives to help me, but I still can't find just the right sounding name that fits perfectly with the world.
How does anyone come up with names? Is there some trick or excellent website that other people know of, but I seem to have missed in all my hunting?
One thing you might think about doing is taking a common name and either deliberately misspelling or mispronouncing it.
A personal favorite is Mychell (my chull) which is a deliberate misspelling and mispronunciation of Michael. I always thought some spellings were deceptive anyway.
Francois (fran swah) looked like Frank oy to me, but I was not familiar with French pronunciation when I first made that mistake.
Another favorite is to take a common name and to add or subtract a letter or letters. One character I have from an old story was Axender, which was simply a slight rearrangement of Alexander.
When playing D&D (yes, I am a long time geek!) I have a friend who always seems to come up with names for her female characters that end in ina or ita. Such as Jerina, Talina or Dezita.
What can be funny, if you find a satisfactory way to make up names yourself, is if you run into anyone who is actually named that in real life. I was VERY surprised, for instance, when I went into the bank one day, and came face to face with a teller named Jeed - the name of the Shaman's wife in one of my stories, though this lady's name was not short for Jeedaira.
Another thought might be to take a close look at your ethnicity, and see if there is any rhythm to the common names or words of your background. My own background includes Czech and Irish, and I have a lot of fun with that. Taking a name common to another culture, but uncommon to the one you're in (I'm American, so Slavic names are highly unusual in my part of the US) I have come up with names such as Sumilla (my own variation of Ludmilla), Valad (Vlad) and Nikusa (Nikolai).
Finally, one exercise might be to pull up a blank word processing document (such as Word or Notepad or whatever) and then just let your fingers wander all over the board, without real rhyme or reason, and just type. For example:
kafliaroaijenlkjgjh lkajdfiajoiejalkdnm klsjfoiaewja aoieur ojdflmlakdo
From these examples of keyboard jibberish, I have Kafliar, Fiajoi, Aoir, and Flakdo.
Names, which, by the way, might come in handy, so I will keep in a name file. The pronunciations are entirely up to you, as well as any additions or omissions in the spellings.
You give the best advise! Do you teach creative writing?
I have a question for you, since you have a Czech connection....I've been looking into myths and legends beyond the normal that we encounter here in the U.S. Is there a good source of Czech fairy tales or myths and legends that you know of???
I have to agree with Iris; you do give very good advice Blue.
I've tried that writing gibberish in Word, and I must say it's fantastic and so simple. I hadn't even thought of that. Already getting loads of ideas.
Unfortunately I cant turn to my origins for ideas, being born in South Africa and now living in Scotland, there's not a great deal of unusual names to use or adapt. At least not many that I know about.
I will, however, try some of your other ideas.
I have another question for you. Have you ever attempted to create a language for any of your stories(a challenge for sure, but could be really fun), and if so how would you go about it?
I don't teach because I have one fundamental flaw that would interfere, and that is an almost TOTAL lack of patience.
The keyboard gibberish was an accidental discovery. I was typing away at something, and got distracted, and ran a bunch of words together. I was a little upset, and then, while looking at the mess I had typed, trying to figure out where the sentence was supposed to go, I thought how cool some of it actually looked, despite being utter nonsense. I "harvested" a couple of place names out of it, and it worked so well that I keep using it.
As for good sources of Czech legends and mythology, I am searching for that myself. I do subscribe to Radio Prague, (I get a daily e mail from them) and in exploring their website, I found things related to the Knights of Blahnik, an order of Knights who are due to return at Judgment Day, with St. Wenceslas (of Good King Wenceslas fame) at their head, when the Czech nation is most in danger. I think the URL is radio.cz, but I'm not sure.
As for creation of language, ah, yes, it is so nice to be able to make up and use words of your own, and to be able to dictate (instead of being dictated to!) the grammar rules.
Thank you, by the way, for the compliments on how good my advice is. Now, if I can just muster the discipline to SIT DOWN IN FRONT OF THE COMPUTER AND ACTUALLY PRODUCE SOMETHING WORTH PUBLISHING!!
You could publish a book on creative writing
On the subject of foreign tales:
Children's Bookhouse published two books on my shelf (old)
Little Pictures of Japan
Tales Told in Holland
The books are in the same format - looks as though they may have done a set from different countries. Might be worth a search.
I have another title called Hungarian Fairy Tales. That's not so far away...others in this set listed in the front have other countries, no Czeck, but that's not to say a later title wasn't done in other locales.
I also have a book of Russian tales. No other volumes listed there....
Just what's on my shelves - the rest are collections from all over....mixed bags, as it were.
on making up names: try a baby name book of foreign names. I'm fascinated by the history of names as it says a lot about a particular culture.
Personally, I like to use Blue's trick of spewing random letters out of a keyboard and then rearranging them in a Boggle like manner. If I don't like it, I change a letter here or there until it flows nicely on my tongue and fits for my character.
does anyone else read sociology books on other cultures? great for developing societies
Naming characters is VERY difficult! Especially when you are dealing with a fantasy world where there are different races, speaking different languages, and therefore having different names. I also like the names to mean something. I found a baby book very handy. I also made use of the glossary at the back of the Silmarillion. Sometimes I just like the sound of a name. For instance, I've always liked the names Galadriel, Galahad and Galadan (one of the main villans in Fionavar Tapestry, by Guy Kay.) So, I named one of my main characters Galadorn.
Then, I looked up the meaning of the name in the Sil: it means 'radiant oak'! Holy mackeral!! Talk about serendipity! The oak tree is very important in this country's culture, and is emblazoned on its coat of arms!
Depends on what you are planning on using the name for, of course - but I love using Janny's paravian for naming.
Usually when I need a name for a game character or a pet I'll dig up the paravian dictionary. It sounds cool and it's not immediately obvious where the name is from! Plus it's an interesting way of meeting secret Janny fans.
I was using Elya and Laere for a little while. I suspect my firstborn will end up with a paravian name (significant other will have no say on this!).
==the paravian dictionary is copyright material==
One easy way to get names is to just use Welsh names, actually. I find a lot of fantasy genre names have an almost Welsh look to them, including some parts of Paravian. It's the prominence of "w", "y" and "ae", I think.
Be warned though, Welsh pronunciation is not the same as English. There's a band whose members are Gruff Rhys ("Griff Reece"), Dafydd Ieuan ("Davith Y-eye-an"), Cian Ciaran ("Key-an Key-air-in"), Huw Bunford ("Hugh Bunford") and Guto Pryce ("Gitto Price"). I've always loved the name Dafydd but am sure it would constantly be mis-pronounced.
I looked at welsh names for my son but then realised that I had no idea how to pronounce the vast majority and "moved on"... ;-)
Hello, you could read some of the VIKING SAGAS, there are many unusual names to be found in them, skol from Laurence.
Neil, what you can do is either look at the Welsh names and pronounce them as you see fit, or find someone familiar with them to help you with the proper pronunciation.
Laurence, do you have any names of the Viking sagas? I ask, because my brother Chet (adopted him when I was 33) is of Swedish descent and utterly fascinated by anything remotely Viking. I am hoping to find interesting things relating to his family history, but my lack of familiarity with Scandanavian mythology is a serious problem. I'd also like to read an authentic saga myself.
Hello Blue, try Google searchs on the following topics, Viking Sagas, Norse Sagas, Norse Mythology, Viking Myths, Scandinavian Mythology, Icelandic Sagas, etc..
I have pasted a few links below, Skol from Laurence.
Thank you Laurence! I intend to start scouring those ASAP!!
Hello Blue, here is another link which may be of interest and here is my name in it's Norse form, LARSEN.
since the WoLaS gloassary is copyright am I in trouble for nameing my son Lysaer? :P
I thought it was more of a reminder that you can't go around naming a character in a novel you're writing after paravian sources.
Kam - you got it.
It's OK to name your kids or your pets after whatever you like.
Character names for publication - that's different ground altogether.