Reply To: The Creation of Names and Use of Surnames

Forums Fiction Characters The Creation of Names and Use of Surnames Reply To: The Creation of Names and Use of Surnames



Any good strategies on how to best come up with names? Also, what do you think of using surnames like we do today or doing what Lord of the rings did such as โ€œson/daughter of (father name)โ€ or โ€œhouse of (founding father name)?

I’m assuming you’re talking about character names, so I’ll answer that specifically ๐Ÿ™‚

The LOTR method is solid and historical because it requires no bookkeeping. Nobody needs to keep track of whether that name already exists and whether people are connected and so on and so forth. It’s by far the simplest method that needs the least explanation.

You need to decide whether surnames have been introduced yet and maybe think about why. (The first instance I’m thinking of is that Napoleon forced everyone to take a surname and be registered in the Netherlands. You can look at why and whether that would have happened yet.)

Until they were ‘standardized’ people were referred to either by “son/daughter of–” or by a characteristic. That’s where a lot of surnames come from. So, names like “Baker”, “Miller”, or “Of [place name]” or even “the tall”, “the short”

I think this could logically be applied to a fantasy world. It makes sense and if you do it properly it can still sound fantasy-like. If you really want you can take names like Baker or Miller and run them through Google translate in a few languages until you find something cool sounding.

As for first names, I pick a set of countries or a region and go through names of that place to find more unusual ones that just “sound right”. I use Hebrew, Turkish, and Arabic names mainly, though I have one or two others that just sounded right.

That can also vary by region. The northern part of the country had a large influx of immigrants about two generations back, and you can tell by the language, the customs, and the names. For them I used shorter names that sounded a little less unique, like “Isa”, “Sage”, and “Faye”.

So, just some ideas to get you started ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope that was helpful!

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