Terrouge E-zine Archives
Rystan's Writing Recommendations
Hello, and welcome to the February column of Rystan's Writing Recommendations! This month's question comes from Firal. Firal asks:
It's usually no problem for me to think up a decent character, but I always have a hard time on choosing a good name that fits. Most of the time I don't even try to think up a surname. So I was just curious to know if you have any suggestions that might give me ideas for names? Is there anything that helps you find one you like?
Finding a name that fits your character like a glove is a difficult task, no matter how experienced the writer. No worries, you're certainly not alone. I also find surnames to be the most difficult to create, so we'll start with the first name.
Sometimes, if you're in a particularly creative mood, you might try putting together syllables that have a nice sound and make up your own name. Linny, from the Terrouge Forums, created her character Tealinne (pronounced "TAY-ah-lynn") in this manner. Notice how the sounds easily roll off the tongue? Give this method a try and find sounds that you think fit together nicely.
If you don't feel like creating a name from scratch, there are plenty of sites that can help you find what you're looking for. Behindthename.com is an especially good one. Here, you can browse hundreds and hundreds of names from different languages and cultures. For example, if you want a name that's Biblical or from mythology, this site has entire sections covering those types of names. You can also search for names alphabetically, by gender, or by language. Another helpful site is Babynames.com. Yes, it's meant for mothers-to-be, but that doesn't mean you can't use it to name characters! It has a nifty feature that lets you search for a name with a certain meaning. If you know what your character's personality is going to be like, you can enter a keyword, such as "gentle" or "mysterious," and it will bring up names with those meanings. Thus, you can find names that match the character's personality! For example, our own Fidget has a character who is proficient in archery. She named this character after Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, since she is often associated with bows and arrows. (Some of you may be more familiar with her Greek couterpart, Artemis.)
Now, let's move onto surnames. This part of the naming process tends to be a little more challenging, but it's all about knowing where to look. As with first names, you can always simply make up your own name by choosing something that sounds interesting. This is what I tend to do, as it's easier this way to make the first name and surname fit together. The surnames of my characters Rystan Celenni and Sparrow Vaniterra were both created in this way. Linny's character Dalia Wifflewitz also has a made-up surname, created to sound ridiculous and fluffy to match the character's personality. If you're familiar with any foreign languages, you could also use words from those languages to create a surname that fits the character's disposition. Fidget created the surname "Stregaregale" in this manner, which is Italian for "royal witch." Some surnames are a little less obscure. Stormclaw's character Sieran Forester is just that: a forester, a woodsman.
Alternately, there are two quick and easy ways to find surnames. First, you can search on the ever-helpful Google. If there's a particular language you like the sound of, say French, just plug in "French surnames," and Google will generate a plethora of sites listing French surnames. Secondly, check out a phonebook! Those are chock-full of surnames that you can use.
As with every part of the writing process, it will take time to come up with the perfect name for you character. Hopefully these tips will stir up your imagination and make the process a little bit easier! As always, questions are appreciated and can be sent to me, Rystan, on the Terrouge forums, or to email@example.com. Happy writing, everyone!