Names can be difficult to come up with for characters or locations, so here are some helpful techniques that I have found that have helped me (for the longest time I have a lot of trouble coming up with names).
1) Names that Sound Cool
These names are best for character names, and (like the title says), you just think up of names that sound like they fit the character. This is also one of the hardest forms of coming up with names, but there is a way to make this easier. Search the Internet for Baby Names websites, and most of these websites categorize the names (such as Japanese, Arabic, French, Russian, Hawaiian, Hindi, etc). This makes it easier if you want your character to have a name that sounds Japanese (or any of the other many categories).
2) Names with Meanings
This is hard as well, but not in the same sense as Names that Sound Cool. In this style of name creation, you search the Internet under Name Meanings, and you will get websites that show the meanings of the names (Also, many baby names websites also show the meanings). A good tip is to base meanings off of that character’s personality. The hard part about this style is that the names with the best meanings are almost never seem right for the character, and since not that many people know the meanings of names, the payoff is not as good.
3) Names Based off of Famous People (or places)
In this style of naming, you give the character the same names (or sounding very close to) a famous person that your character reflects. The important thing is that you don’t always want it to be the same name, yet sometimes you can get away with it. In the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes (by Bill Watterson), the two main character’s names (Calvin, and Hobbes) were the same as the first names of philosophers. In Terry Pratchett’s novel, The Colour of Magic, there is a desert known as the Great Nef. ‘Nef’
spelled backwards is ‘fen’ (i.e. something incredibly wet, and since it is the backwards spelling, it makes it the opposite, which is something incredibly dry). Like the Names with Meanings, not a lot of people will recognize your hidden meanings; then again, this format helps if you can’t think of any better way to come up with names.
4) The Scrabble Method
With this method, you write down some words that reflect the character or the location. For characters, use words based off of personality, such as “strong willed,” “cunning,” “cowardly,” or “fearless”. You then rearrange the letters in the word(s) [letter tiles from the board game Scrabble really help] to create some sort of name for that character or location. You don’t have to only use those letters – the letters are only there to get you to think of a name that sounds good [feel free to add or subtract letters]. The more words you use, the more letters you have to work with, and most of them you can get rid of anyways. For example: I once was using this method and out of a list of five words and came up with something like “eft hond
o,” which became “Left Hand Joe,” and later, “Left hand Zhoudamarajia,” or Left
Hand Joe” for short [on that last bit, I used the Names that Sound Cool method. the sound of it just came to me a few days later]. After the creation of the name, I made “Joe” have only his left hand, which worked out because I was still juggling ideas around in my head for the character. Then again, I could have easily mad “eft hond o” into “Eftondo,” but I stuck with what sounded cool to me. The point of this method is really just to get you to think of words or names based off of some of the letters that you have.
5) The Backwards Method
In this form of name creation, you pick a word – any word. I usually use names of countries or cities that I see on maps or globes. You can even open a book and use the first word you see (although, the word “I” isn’t really that good for name creation, although with your imagination, you could probably work something out). Write that word down, and then write it backwards. After that, it becomes similar to the Scrabble Method where you add and subtract letters to make a cool sounding name. Here is an
example of this method in use:
-derufinian, derufini, runifi, finding, etc…
In that last part, I showed just a few of the many possibilities that you can make. You could even make the word “Derufin” a country, and the people of the country have a “Derufinian” culture, or speak “Derufini”. As an inside joke, you can even make that culture excellent manufacturers.
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