Writing Woes: character names…FANTASY EDITION

Hey all! Things are going pretty well in my neck of the woods. Got some nice work done on 404 while in the car on the way to and from Door County last weekend. And I’m getting through the short stories for Unfading Daydream! Hooray!

Today’s post is one I’m revisiting. Last time I handled this (in Writing Woes: naming characters), I only really covered regular names.But there’s another beast that rears its ugly head from time to time…fantasy names. Why am I handling this now? Because a friend of mine mentioned that his DM for his Thursday campaign needed to think of 50ish names for characters.

That’s a lot of names to come up with.

So…here we go~

Resource 1: fantasynamegenerators.com

This is one of the first places I go when I’m stuck on naming a character in a fantasy setting (and sometimes in a sci-fi setting!). Why? Because of the sheer amount of variety.

They have generators for many different settings.

(seriously, they have SO MANY DIFFERENT GENERATORS)

Upon choosing which one you want to use, in this case, the Dungeons & Dragons name generator…you get to a page where you then get to choose the species or face you’d like names for.

LOOK AT ALL THOSE CHOICES!

The amount of choices may seem daunting, but the names for each of those species/races can be very different. This way you wind up with something that suits the character in question.

And then after you choose which you’d like to get names for…you get multiple names at a time, with the choice of choosing gendered names as well.

For instance, these are names for female half elves. I don’t think there’s an option for gender neutral names, unfortunately. I like to keep a document open and copy/paste the names I’m fond of – that way I have a stash of names for the future.

Resource 2: namegenerator.biz’s Fantasy Name Generator

This is a more general fantasy name generator. There aren’t all the choices from the previous one. But that’s okay – sometimes you just need names that sound vaguely fantastical versus the specificity in names for different races/species.

I’m a fan of this one for two reasons.

1.) you can smash ‘generate’ and it makes a list of those names

2.) you can move your favorites over to a different list which is easy to copy/paste to a more permanent document.

Resource 3: making normal names sound fantasy

This is another technique that many content creators use.So let’s pick the most popular baby names from 2018 as a starting point (found at Popular Baby Names on the Social Security website).

  • Boy Names: Liam, Noah, William, James, Oliver, Benjamin, Elijah, Lucas, Mason, and Logan.
  • Girl Names: Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Sophia, Charlotte, Mia, Amelia, Harper, and Evelyn.

Those are all names that sound pretty rooted in our reality. These are not the names you would usually use in a Fantasy setting. But they could be a nice base for Fantasy names.

Liam could become Lyum. Noah could simply become Noh. James could be Jymes. Sophia could become Syphia. Amelia might change to Amyla. Olivia could be Lifia.

Basically, what I’m doing with those is creating a sense of semi-familiarity by only changing a bit of the name to make it sound more ‘fantasy.’ The reader might connect more with Jymes than Khrz’narx’an.

Resource 4: keysmashes can create character names too

I only found this method a few days ago. I found it on twitter and cannot find the original tweet…so I recreated it the best I could. (If I find the tweet in question, I will credit them here because I don’t want to steal their idea!)

(typing it out because images aren’t accessible)

Step 1: Create a Keysmash

s;dlfkjwpeoiurxc,kfjnv

Step 2: break it into smaller chunks

s;dl  fkj  wpe  oiurx  c,kf  jnv

Step 3: add vowels as needed

Sydol  Fikaj  W’peo  Iurex  Ck’af  Jinv

(as you can see, I moved the O over to another cluster because I was having difficulty creating a name there)

Now you have some weird, fantasy sounding names. Pronunciation is up to you~

I’ve found that the keyboard smashes make for ‘more’ fantasy sounding names. They don’t really have the grounding that altering an existing name has. The keyboard smashes make some really weird names, but they add variety as well.

In Conclusion…

There are a lot of ways to create fantasy names and these are some that I use and recommend. There’s not a ‘best’ way nor is there a ‘more correct’ way. It really just boils down to what works best for you.

What are some of your tricks for making fantasy names?

Happy writing!
~LL

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