Naming my characters and my world

I know that I touched base on this when it was day three in the month long series but I’ve been thinking about it a lot since the so I wanted to go into more details about it.

Like I had mentioned, naming for me is a difficult process. I actually spend a lot of time thinking about it (sometimes stressing about it) and do a lot of research. Names don’t just pop in to my head – or if they do it’s a very rare occasion. Not only that, but I change the names a lot. I’ll find one that fits, at least in my head, but as I am writing something may happen where the character changes and the name no longer so I have to go and find another one.

Let’s just say it’s a pain in the ass.

I am a fan of using name finders and baby naming sites. Especially when they have user friendly search features that allow you to search in different ways (example: by a word, by a gender, by country, by anything under the moon) and give you lists of different names to choose from. One of my favorites is Behind the Name. I think I have used that site since the beginning of my writing for ideas into names, granted I have used others as well but those have been intermittently when I can’t find what I need on BTN because it’s always my first stop with name issues.

Alright, so character names are hard for me. We get that now. What I have come to discover that is much harder is naming different things in the geography – countries, cities, landmarks, rivers, etc. are all a lot harder to work with. I mean when you use BTN, it is really hard to use a person’s name as a country. Or at least I think its silly looking. And another thing that bugs me is name generators. They always come up with weird names that, in my head, would never pass as a real name for a place. So what I have learned to do recently is make up my own. I know, I know I said that was a hard process for me. What I have been doing isn’t a hundred percent imagination, mostly what I do will grab a few names from random searches and combine them in ways that don’t normally come together. It makes for some weird names that I either keep or trash.

The one big reason I change character names is because who I am writing doesn’t fit the name that they have. Names have a connotation behind them. They leave a picture in your head. Think about someone named Bambi. I know when I read that name I think ‘stripper’ or a very blonde idiot. Granted, in life there are most likely Bambi’s that don’t strip and aren’t idiot but saying and seeing that name leaves a picture in my head. And in the heads of most people I know.

Let’s take my character Micah. And I have told his progression before in one of the thirty day entries but I want to dig deeper. A little background on my world: there are humans with no magic and there are shifters with the ability to change into certain animals. The humans do not know about the shifters. So, knowing that, when I started writing Selene’s story her love interest was human. So, I picked a random name for him: Alec. He was naïve, young, and slightly frightened by who Selene was (when he finds out). I didn’t like him, and he didn’t like himself. I didn’t want Selene to be with someone so weak-willed. So, we did a revamping of his character.

Alec became Leo. He was still human but more strong-willed. He was very vocal in his parts. Instead of being completely unaware of the world around him, his family was initiated into the magical world and had planned on initiating him as well (though when he gets forced into it he had yet to find out about it). He stayed as Leo for quite some time. I like him as Leo, I mean his name just bled strength and courage. Which he ended up needing a lot of initially, the world he was thrown into was scary and harsh to him.

What ended up happening next was that Aislynn came along. She was never going to have a very big part of the story, other then being the child of Selene and Leo. But she had a bigger voice then I ever would have imagined. When I decided to give her her own separate, individual story I realized that her father being human hindered who I was watching Aislynn become. So to make sense of Aislynn’s story, Leo became Savitar.

Savitar didn’t stay Savitar for long. Mostly because I realized that I had taken his name from a character that has similar type of abilities from another book that I had been reading at the time. Since I didn’t want him to be a carbon copy of someone else’s creation, I realized I needed to revamp his name again and he became Micah. He is no longer human and more so a demi-god. Because of this, Aislynn’s character now makes sense.

So, as you can see, the transition from one name to another has a point in my head. The connotations behind that name represent what they are on the paper for me. Many things bring a character to life, one of those is the name itself, especially since you don’t get to actually see the character.

Now when we get to name of places, things get a little trickier. Like I mentioned earlier, I have a habit of mashing them all together in different ways. Lets take a look of a few of them as an example:

  • Torrest Reyenne – This was one name that I didn’t come up with myself. I was actually trying to think up names and my husband gave me this random name. And so I stuck with it because I really couldn’t think of anything any different/better that worked for my writing. This is the name of the world in general. It may end up changing, or it may not. I haven’t come up with anything that works better in my mind, so as of now it’ll stay.
  • Calypto – Now this name is the world of the gods. This one was a pretty random as well. I was trying to write a short story on the creation of my world and the gods part in that and since they do not reside in/on Torrest Reyenne, I realized I needed a name for the world the gods lived in. This one just … popped in my head. Something that I didn’t even really have to think of. I liked and so I kept it.
  • Hycintha – This is the name of the country where the Cats mainly reside. This was a sort of melding/mixing up of words. I had found the word Hyacinth (which is a type of flower) and removed and changed some letters around. Basically removed the A and put it at the end instead of near the beginning. And so I came up with Hycintha.
  • Lolia – This name came about by come across the name Layla (which has a meaning of night – and since this is the home of the bad guys I think it fit) and me just playing with letters (you can see that it’s really no where near Layla anymore…). In which case I came up with Lolia which became the home of the Dallions.
  • Aeria – This is going to be the home of some shifters that change primarily to avian creatures (bird people). The way I came by this name is pretty simple. Aerie by definition is the home of birds – specifically birds of prey – and so I figured taking that to start with was a good place, then changed the ‘E’ at the end to a ‘A’ gave it a familiar yet different connotation.
  • Abyssinian – This is the main city of the Cat population. It is where a lot of the story takes place. Came initially from finding the word abyss (which most know means vast and profound space) and finding this name in the “similar” terms area on dictionary.com. The name Abyssinian is actually the former name of Ethiopia and I like it so I decided to use it as the name of the city for the Cats.

So, as you can see, the developments of the names I come up with really go through silly processes. Especially with names of places in my world – makes me wonder how others do it. People are just way too creative for their own good when it comes to names!

Cara Mia Amore

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