Advice on naming characters and places?

As the title says, I’d like advice on naming characters and places, I’m absolutely terrible at it(it doesn’t help that my story has Loads and Loads of Characters, either).

Setting, time, etc are main factors.

Whats your story like?

Set in a feudalistic system with modern tech. Lots of different Houses, all with land of their own.

Well when in doubt a random generator always helps me. There are tons of them. That’s my two cents😊

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These might be of help


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http://www.fantasynamegenerators.com
always and forever <3

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Oh, I use that a lot myself. Plus, if you like one name but not another, just take the first and a different last name.

The only thing to remember is to make sure the naming scheme still fits the setting/country.

For characters, Behind the Name https://www.behindthename.com/ is great. They also have a generator you can customize: https://www.behindthename.com/random/

As for place names, “toponymy” is a useful search term. This wikipedia article is also helpful: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_name_origins Places tend to follow patterns. Pick out a few patterns you like and alternate among those. Here are some patterns and name parts for Ireland & the UK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generic_forms_in_place_names_in_Ireland_and_the_United_Kingdom

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Terry Brooks on reddit says, “I steal them. No, really. I keep a notepad with me at all times, especially when I travel. When I see an interesting or cool name, I write it down. Streets, towns, people’s names, whatever.”

As with many things Terry Brooks, this method can be a little too obvious. I remember once looking at an atlas of the NW USA and seeing a half dozen names I knew from Shannara books (though the only one I recall offhand was Pe Ell). You can cover your tracks better than he tends to.

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Perhaps this is just the type of settings I write in, but I tend to not really focus on the names of places unless it’s, like, important. When I was writing ZOMB, I stole a random city name from Arkansas, and then I found out that the name I chose wasn’t actually a city. Whoops. For Voltaic, I just stuck with a generic locale (a camping grounds), although I did end up naming it. If you can pick generic locations, I highly recommend picking some kind of name that relates to the story over all.

As far as character names go, I tend to write in modern settings, so I go for modern names. The fun part about character names are how you use phonetics to reflect the character. I try to find a name that evokes a certain feeling that matches with a character’s personality when you say the name out loud.

For example, Madison - being the self-imposed antagonist that she is - needed a name that sounded abrasive, so I tried to find a name that had two hard consonants (“d” and “s” are always really good to have in villain names, and three syllables have a lot of impact). For Sabrina, I wanted something that sounded sharp at the beginning and then softened, hence the “s” and then the “b” followed by the soft “na.” For Olivia, I wanted her name to feel calming, so I avoided any consonants that live in the front of the mouth. For Carlton, I picked a name that sounded pleasant but had an underlying feeling of ingenuity, so I picked something with a “t” in the middle to jut into the pleasant sounds of the other letters.

Honestly, phonetic name spelling is one of my favorite methods of naming characters, and one of my favorite skills to learn about when I was in theatre.

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You can never go wrong with puns! For example, in Paths, Fort Guerrison is a triple-pun! There’s the obvious “garrison” in there, but also guerre meaning war and “son” meaning what it means in English, which is supposed to be indicative of the Emperor’s role as a “son of war”.

I’ve also used street names with the letters flipped around, corruptions of famous people, and specific keyword searches on behindthename.

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Yes, behind the name! I’ve used a lot, especially with foreign named characters of mine, to add little nods or hints for their character.

For example, a character in my novel, Tetsuya Nakahiro, is a former Japanese surgeon.
Tetsuya means clever, or intelligent.

Almost every name has a historic meaning or definition, so if that’s the route you want to go, @KuriosIasoun, It’s certainly one open.

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For character names, try to create there endgame: what they trying to do and how far are they willing to go to get what they want? and name them after that. Or if you have there personality in mind name them something along those lines.

I used to be terrible at naming characters because no name felt right and I had to do each justice to the character which I still struggle with from time to time.

But some advice I was given at the time was to be inclusive… (y’know if your story takes place on Earth) you can’t have every person be white or black or hispanic and the same goes for names though I was always worried my names were too stereotypical like some Punch Out charecters or something.

The second piece of advice was to have people with the same name especially if it was a common name as it’s more likely that in a big group there was gonna be some crossover.

But my own advice when it comes to naming characters would be to go to one of those name generators and just click your life away until you find a first or surname you like and try to find one that matched it.

Another problem I ran into was trying to ensure every name had some secret meaning by looking at the origins and definitions which absolutely will drive you crazy. Like saying…

“This character is always happy their name should reflect that ‘google, google, google’ names meaning sunny hmm… no… no… no… no… well then I guess there is just no name fitting! Back to the drawing board I go Whoopie!.. oooh I like this name I should use it and leave it alone and never google its meaning ever… I have to know what it means! ‘google, google, google’ Sixth daughter! But she’s an only child! Now I can’t use this name…”

Seriously its a problem. The best solution is to go the common route, you’re not going to run into a lot of Titus’s or Tamara’s. You’re more likely to see Tom, or Tanner. Along with Tina or Tonya, make the character stick out if not the name otherwise you’ll be at it forever.

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If I am looking for something made up, I have a penchant for giving places and sometimes characters names related to insect taxonomy or the names of insects in other languages. Otherwise, I choose based off what amuses me or fits into the setting.

I like when I know the meaning of the name, so I use a lot of baby name sites. But I also use these when I want something quick for minor characters: http://chaoticshiny.com/namegen.php
https://www.seventhsanctum.com/index-name.php
http://www.springhole.net/writing_roleplaying_randomators/namegens.htm
Also love this one: http://pagannames.witchipedia.com/

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To be fair, Shannara is based in a post-apocalyptic USA, like Hunger Games.

Not sure if this is helpful,but sometimes I look at meanings of names and try to find a name that fits a particular narrative I have about that character. There are also some sites that let you generate random names for D&D and such, might not always get the best results, but sometimes you see something you like and you can tweak it.

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I never heard of someone saying ‘‘I’m the best at finding names for my character! and guess what ? even where they live!’’ .

For some peoples , they are very creatives and it come easy . for others , it’s hard .

I can’t claim at being good at finding names , heck…I even forget names! (yeah I have a hard time with names , I can remember with clarity someone voice and even face but not names ) .

when I first wrote my story (not a game) , the setting was a medieval like asian with samurai and the like . I had to figure out names on the fly . And the only names I had was one name for the main character and she was a female . So since I’m too lazy lol I decided to stick her with a male name regardless and come up with a little story around the why she was given a male name . (the name originally was from an animé I watched a long time ago…I just liked it too much) .

For the rest of the cast ( there were 5 characters in total) , one was named after the chapter he existed in . The other was named after his personality , and the 3rd her name was supposed to be a lie . The 4th was a traditional name I had to look up and finally the 5th character was never named . She was referred in flashback and I left her name up in the air .

For places for that story , there weren’t many . So that help alot . I only had to name 3 places . One was a city and a small fishering village and the 3rd place was a destroyed village . I admit when I got to the 3rd village , I run out of ideas and took a name from a game I played .

for the 2nd story , there were very few characters (3 of them lol) and believe it or not , I never had to name where they existed . Its kinda freeing ! you don’t name where they are…and you can create stuff left and right . Course , creating dialogue between just 2 characters was painful…:sweat_smile:

My 3rd story is similar too . The cast of characters work in a Dojo , they own houses . There is an academy , there is a police station , there is a restaurant . There are docks , slums , a cathedrale , underground maze and all . But beyond ‘‘it happen in Japan’’ then later ‘‘Its France’’ and some ‘‘This was in the USA’’ . The place where they exist doesn’t have a name . There is a school , it has a name but thats about it .

For names like I said , it really depand on the setting . At least to me . Some of the names could have meaning beyond ‘This name mean this character is pure, the other one is evil and grin alot’’ .

for exemple I was looking for my 3rd story for a Japanese traditional name but that could sound off more…like ‘‘look this name bear wealth and much more’’ but in a today setting , yet give you those vibes that its an old names from many generations .

So found : Takeda (武田 Takeda ) is a Japanese family name. Throughout the course of the Sengoku period (16th century) of Japan, the famed Takeda clan of Kai Province had many descendant branch families. Takeda clan (Aki) is a family in the Aki Province. Takeda clan (Wakasa) Takeda clan (Kazusa)

and it fit so well :sweat_smile:

anyway , my advice (finally lol) is there are many way to get past the wall of ‘‘I don’t know how to find or come up with names for characters and places’’ . Google is also your friend :wink:

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