A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

I hate naming things. I hate naming places. I hate naming people. Are you sensing a theme?

I seriously think that the best part of having a co-author for The Slender Man Massacre is that she does all the naming. Unfortunately, I don’t have a co-author for any of my other books, and it’s about time to start naming nouns for my upcoming scifi novel, including the title.

I figured I’d channel my pain into a series on naming, starting with this post on how I came up with those used in Power of the Mages.

Characters:

Occasionally — rarely — a name just comes to me, and that is that character’s name with no questions. Ashley Asher was like that. She’s the first character name I came up with for the book, and, even though I had two separate beta readers tell me they hate the name, I’m sticking with it. In fact, a large part of the reason I wrote Abuse of Power was to justify her name. I just says medieval sorority girl to me, which fits my picture of Ashley.

For other major characters, I tend to go with meanings. I dig through baby name books and pick names based on their roots, though I constrain myself by 1) what sounds good for the setting and 2) trying to make sure that the names don’t sound too much like each other.

• Xan, the protagonist, is short for Alexander which means defender of mankind. It also has the benefit of sounding a little like “Rand” from Wheel of Time, and I don’t mind paying a little homage to my favorite series.
• Lainey, kind of a fire mage, means torch.
• Dylan was to be a water mage, and it means great sea.
• Brant, my heroic adventurer/soldier, means sword.
• Tasia, my life mage, is a form of Anastasia which means resurrection.

The last main character I chose simply based on sound. Lucan is kinda sketchy, and I thought the name fit.

For minor characters, I’m a lot less picky. I tend to generate large lists of random names at Seventh Sanctum and pick from them. I usually end up modifying the names to some degree to fit what I want, and usually end up picking the first name from one of the suggestions and the last from another.

Places:

For the protagonist’s hometown and for the major city, I kinda copped out. I decided early on that wizards take animal names — one the Eagle and the other the Lion. Since the Eagle saved the protagonist’s hometown from destruction, I figured they named it after him, and Eagleton was born. The major city is the seat of the duchy ruled by the Ashers, thus creating Asherton.

The two duchies that I named so far, I just made up. Truna came pretty easily to me, and, with the “na” ending precedent set, I through some other letters in front of it to create Vierna.

I had a horrible time creating the kingdom names. I started out with Spiredom for the mountain kingdom, Waveshire for the ocean land, and Sandhold for the desert region. Lameness, right? Never fear, they always were placeholders.

A guy in my writing group told me he likes to use non-English translations as inspiration. I found this works pretty well, though it takes a fair amount of research to come up with words. Once I have a list for, say, mountains, I combine a syllable from one non-English word with another one and throw on a suffix that makes it sound like a land. Tip: Hawaiian is a great language for doing this with.

• The mountain kingdom became Bermau.
• The ocean land became Kaicia.
• The bad guys, the desert region, become Dastanar.

I’m only really in love with the last of those, but all are better than I started with.

Overall, I probably put way too much effort into this. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series later this week, The Blank Factor.

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