June 3rd, 2010

wayfaring wordhack

Writing about Writing - Day 3

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you're writing about fictional places)?

Character names often occur to me at the very beginning with the initial story idea, and they can be very hard to change once I see that maybe the assonance is off with the ensuing world, culture, etc.  I sometimes chose based on meaning, in the case of Talion and Kenji in TTD.  Kenji is Japanese for "second son." However, if I decide to rework TTD, I will probably do a bit of language creation based on the clinic I mention below. The MC of a future work has an English-word name, and that will not change because it is important to her character.

Of late, as was the case with Baxente, a POV in Witherwilds, I’ll create a language and other names based on one character so that I don’t have to change the name. That's how much I love Baxente's name. (The X is pronounced "sh" and the final E is é[ay], in case you were wondering.)

I’ve spoken of this before, but I’ve found Holly Lisle's Create a Culture Clinic very helpful for designing a language.  In previous projects, I relied heavily on sites such as Behind the Name.  I would find something I liked and then search for additional names with a shared root. 

It's more fun creating my own character and place names, though.  The meaning behind the name may not resonate with the reader in the same way that a word from an existing Earth language does, but it has a deeper meaning for me.