A Guide to Finding and Creating Fantasy Names
If you have ever tried your hand at writing fantasy, you most likely have run into the problem of finding names for your characters and places. It doesn’t matter whether you are writing Fan Fiction, creating an RPG character or writing a novel, fitting names are essential to dynamic characters and realms, you can’t survive without them. I sometimes have spent hours pouring over a short list of names, only to decide I didn’t like any of them. If you’re like me and the task of finding the “all perfect name” sounds daunting, look through some of the methods below. I guaranty you will enjoy the process.
***Please refrain from copying/using any of my custom names mentioned in this article. I have worked hard to create them. Thank you. © 2008 EMH.
1. Baby Name Dictionaries
The first and easiest method is looking through a baby name dictionary or website. Celtic and Gaelic names usually work well for fantasy as they sound nice and are not well known, another plus is that they are mostly phonetic, (your readers will thank you). You can even take several names and combine them to create a custom name. For example, I took the names “Arwen” and “Lea” and made “Arlea”.
2. Name Generators
Many websites have name generators that jumble letters and syllables together to create custom names. Sometimes this can work very well and create great names, other times it creates useless jumbles like jzwklgm.
3. Mixing Names
As I mentioned above, a great method for creating names is to take parts of names and mix them together. My family and I have had a lot of fun doing this and have made a game out of it. We take totally random words or names, and then switch the syllables and letters around to make new names. My Dad’s favorite thing to do is write words backwards and see what it makes. I have listed some examples of word mixes below so you can get an idea of how it works. With a little imagination you can create unlimited lists of names.
Words to mix: Sahara and Barn
Makes: Sabara (girl’s name)
Words to mix: Brenna and Three
Add the Letter(s): M
Makes: Methrena (realm)
Words to mix: New and Hard
Makes: N’har (desert)
Word(s) to Flip: Henkel
Change to: Lénah (Island)
4. Using Last Names for Locations
For this method, all you need it a notepad. Whenever you hear an interesting last name WRITE IT DOWN!! You never know, it could become the next Middle Earth. Christopher Paolini (author of the “Inheritance Trilogy”) used this method and named Palencar Valley (in Alagaësia) after his cover artist John Jude Palencar.
5. Street Names
Similar to the method above, all you need to for this is write stuff down. Take a note pad with you while you dive (so long as you’re not the diver ) and write down all the good street names you see. These are some I found while driving through the countryside:
Grey Wood Lane
6. Fantasy Name Generator Game**
To play, you need a 6-sided die and a 20-sided die.
1. Roll the 6-sided. 1,2, (and 3 if you like) are vowels, 6 is “Name-ends,” and the rest are consonants.
2. For vowels, roll the 6-sider again. 1=A, 2=E, etc.
3. For consonants, do a similar thing with the 20-sider. If you don’t have a 20-sider, you can simulate one with a
10-sider or two (or something else).
4. If you get a 6, end the name (unless you don’t want to.)
**A huge thanks to CoE member TurinGwoheyuloi for letting me know about this method.
~Hope these suggestions help! Have fun naming!~