When writing a novel, choosing names that aren’t boring or cliche for your characters can be an extremely difficult task to overcome. This can be even more difficult on those who are writing fantasy. You want to create names that are original and sound somewhat exotic, but you don’t want to put apostrophes in all of them just to accomplish that goal. So how do you come up with good, memorable names? I have some good tips for you…
1. Read up on ancient texts. Read the texts of old, whether it be religious, fictional, or historical, there are thousands upon thousands of names waiting to be used in your story. Trust me when I say that the Bible is a great tool to use. It is full of genealogies listing dozens– sometimes hundreds– of names.
2. Name generators. You can find these on the internet. A quick Google search can bring up a dozen of these. Fantasy Name Generator (original name, eh?) lets you select what kind of creature for whom you are searching a name, along with the length you want it to be. Bonus: If you are a Scrivener user, you can go to “Tools”, “Writing Tools” and then you’ll find “Name Generator” on the bottom. This tool will allow you to choose everything from the gender of the name to the origin of the first and last name. This works better for those who are writing anything other than fantasy and sci-fi.
3. Life. I know, this is a cheat, but it works! Find a name– it can be as simple or as complicated as you want, though I suggest the former) and change the spelling a little bit. Be sure to keep the general pronunciation of the name the same, so it can be easy for your reader. For example, I took the name “Jason” and simply changed the o to an e, which resulted in “Jasen”. While this looks a little more exotic, the pronunciation of the name doesn’t change.
Do you have methods to create original character names? If so, share them below!