11 April 2015

Just Make Up a Name!

**My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you’d want to know about naming characters.**
Sometimes you may have a particular story, or a particular character, even, and no name on this entire planet seems to work for them. Maybe they don’t even live on this planet and that’s the problem. Maybe they’ve just got really wacky parents. For whatever reason, sometimes it’s necessary for you to make up a name for your character.

Of course, there are only a few times that you’ll be able to get away with making up your characters’ names without the reader thinking you’re crazy. Genre will usually be the deciding factor. If you’re writing something that is Fantasy or Science-Fiction, for example, you could definitely get away with making up your character names. If you’ve created a world that is completely separate from the real one, then it would make sense for this world to have its own set of names.

So how do you come up with these made up names? It could depend on the story you’re writing. Maybe the universe you’ve created has a specific way of naming its people. Maybe they have a different alphabet. Or you can just put different syllables together until you come up with something that feels right. A name could reflect where your character comes from, or even have some symbolic meaning for what kind of character he is (good or evil, for example). You could incorporate different languages or even make up your own. You could just have fun coming up with your original names, or find a way to put some meaning in to it.

Your characters can have long, elaborate names, but if the reader has no idea how to pronounce them, it might trip them up. Try to make your names understandable and not something that makes the readers pause every time they come across them. You’ll want to avoid anything that makes it harder for the reader to just get through a paragraph.

If you’re writing realistic fiction, it probably isn’t a good idea to create a fake name for a character. If you do choose to do so, it needs to be explained. Maybe this character’s parents wanted to create a unique name for their child. It’s probably something that your character will have to explain to everyone he meets. Whatever the reason for having one, if you just leave a freaky name out there with no explanation, it may throw off the reader.

FUN TIP: If you have a non-fantasy character with a crazy, made-up name, maybe he gets really sick of explaining it to everyone he meets and adopts a more normal sounding nickname.

How do you come up with your Fantasy & Sci-Fi names? Do you find it easier to make up a name or find an existing one? 


  1. I've made up a few name for my unpublished supernatural-thriller series.With the genre, the setting, and the supernatural beings that pop in and out of my story, I could. :)

  2. I have never made up a name--kinda scares me, to be honest! Great post.

  3. Main characters tend to come pre-named, but for the rest, I just brainstorm a list of simple but unique names. For my latest, I selected a bunch of older British names and then changed them just a bit for my story.

  4. There are enough folks out there naming their real life children wacky names...I don't think anyone would turn a hair at a made up one.

  5. Heh! I love this post. My characters usually en up with names that have particular meaning for the story. Like Anka. It means phoenix. That is a huge clue as to what goes on with the story.

  6. I find it irritating when I can "hear" how a character's name sounds when pronounced. I don't mind foreign names, but something like Xytla pushes my reader buttons--the annoyed ones.

  7. Stopping by from the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
    I have to find the perfect name for my characters, I write YA, and New Adult Fiction, and sometimes they are simple like Sam or Anna. Sometimes they need to be a bit more elaborate or some nickname off of a full name. My current WIP and series is "Lane Changes" and the character's name is Lane, but it's short for Alaina. I love trying to find the right name to fit the character in my head.
    I also use fake town names, based of real towns, unless it's a major city like DC or Boston.

    Interesting post and I'm glad someone else has similar thoughts!!!


  8. I would research mythology books and baby name books at the library for my fantasy character names. Ultimately though, some of the names that I used were entrenched in obscure pop culture, which made it wickedly tongue in check when an explanation was warranted.

  9. I find it challenging, but fun to come up with the perfect names for my characters when I write.

  10. Nicknames are great. I've been told they can be confusing for some readers, but if we explain it well it should be okay.

    Another great post.

  11. My Sci-fi WIP I had to figure out alien names. I ended up googling it and finding a name generator where I got ideas and used suggestions as guide to get my names.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  12. Great article! I heard one tip that says pay attention to the trailers on movies and tv shows. You can see some really uncommon names there. I like to go for obscure names from mythology and maybe twist the spelling a little. You can also check out this site: http://www.meaning-of-names.com/