Thursday, 18 August 2011

Name Salad - How to name your character and make a mess while you're at it!

So often, in fantasy books especially, we meet characters whose names sound like they were just made up. While some of them are probably derived from mythology, literature, or are in fact, clever anagrams of people the author knows and dislikes, you can bet your beetles that some of t hem are made up and used because they sound pretty

Names like Frodo, Bilbo, Sabriel, Katsa, Ged, Kest, Elphaba .... (I could go on) might mean something to the author. For example, "dumbledore," is old English for bumble bee, and thence became the name of the humming, benevolent wizard Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. And whether you're writing fantasy or not, if the names work for your character, it doesn't really matter where they come from.

So with this in mind, here's a way of coming up with original character names. (Well maybe not that original, there are only so many syllables in the world and whilst trying this recently, I proved that by pulling out my own name. What are the odds?)

Write your name on a piece of paper. Now cut it up into the syllables that make up your name. For example;


You get the idea.

Use any name you can think of. Make up some syllables for good measure. I find that EL, ESS, KA, DO, GO, IG and SAL make for good combinations. You can even use words and don't forget to use all the vowels!

Toss the pieces together to give them a good shuffle and then start picking out the pieces of paper as if you were playing Scrabble. You don't HAVE to take them at random.

Some good names I came up with include: Elpha, Rhymael, Esmira, Malukai, Kimru and Thora.

If it doesn't work first-time, keep adding syllables and letters. You're bound to come up with something epic eventually. Write them down in your journal, or save them in a file labeled "Character Names" on your computer. Nevermore shall you christen your characters "X", "BOY", "HORSE" or "insert evil-sounding name here."

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