I’m a weird one. For my fantasy NaNoWriMo story, I work out the plot, twists, turns, character personalities, scenes, world setting, and even the linguistics before I know my main characters’ name.
The same level of thought does not go into naming my minor characters. I am happy as long as it fits the linguistics and setting, but otherwise, I will just pick it out of a name from my name database and continue on with my story. For my main characters, I can’t just choose willy nilly and be happy with it. It has to feel right too.
What’s your name?
Currently, I have two main characters, a male and a female, and one importantish minor character, another male. The minor guy had his name since the very inception of the story. His name is Damien… or Damian (most likely Damien). I’ll figure out the spelling later. It was easy for me to choose the name. He is a minor character after all.
I’ve known my female MC for about 5 years now (yes, the story is 5 years in the making.. in my head), but she never had a name that stuck. That was fine by me, because her name is not important to my story (per se), it was what she did that mattered.
Enter NaNoWriMo. As soon as I signed up for this year’s NaNo, I resolved to finally give this girl a name. I jumped between quite a few and once again, nothing sounded right. I spent a few days adding thousands of names to my DB and found nothing. It was frustrating. I had her whole life’s story with no clue what her name was. I lost sleep over this malarky.
So I took a break from finding her name.. to figure out what the male MC’s name was.
Lucky me, his name was found after a brain storming session, mumbling random vowels and consonants together (and getting strange looks from unsuspecting passerby). I decided on Leonce the very moment I said it out loud. It just felt right to me.
Hello Leonce, nice to meet you.
Since Leonce is an actual French name (it means “lion” if you haven’t already guessed), that pushed me to make up my mind on the linguistics and etymology of his country. (It was a draw between French and Spanish. Just to clarify, I’m only using the language as an influence, not the actual history or culture. The culture in my story is a mish-mash between ancient Greek/Roman, Medieval England, and my own ideas. It’ll make sense later. Promise.)
Deciding on the linguistics forced me to look at French names for my female MC as she is from the same country as Leonce. This helped narrow the field considerably. The next step was to download a bunch of French baby names from somewhere (lost track of source, sorry) and began the process of elimination. It took about two days to go through everything. I even had a rating system. A handful of names were neck and neck (in my rating system), but I kept going back to this one name, Elodie. It sounded so right. Finally deciding on it was an awesome feeling (Dear family, please ignore my random dancing in front of the computer).
Elodie, Elodi, Elody, Elohdie, Elohdi, Elohdy, Ehlodie, Ehlodi, Ehlody.
<in Dave Chappelle’s voice> Gotcha bitch!
Damn, it felt good. Now I can move on to more important things.. like thinking up the title of the first book.
Code Name: Ravenite
Don’t worry, I am not as psycho with the book name as I am with the my FMC’s name. I haven’t actually written the book yet (though I do have a 8k+ outline), so I am not too worried about deciding on the name yet. Besides, I expect it to come to me during the writing process.
I did decide on a code name/project name though. Ravenite was initially the working title. It is named after a certain metal found in my characters’ world called Ravenite. Unfortunately, Ravenite was renamed to something else (not sure what yet, but it’s not Ravenite), so this name is no longer relevant to the story.
I’m just keeping Ravenite as a code name due to laziness and the desire to get on with my life. The names will come to me when they do (I hope).
So have you ever encountered character/place/object naming problems for your fantasy stories? Tell me about it!
P.S. I’ve begun hash-tagging the Ravenite related tweets in one neat place. Feel free to follow it!
Update: Looks like I’ll be changing my MMC’s name to Leone instead of Leonce. I am just paranoid that readers will pronounce his name like they say Beyonce’s name. Ick. Still love the name Leonce though!