Creating names for fantasy characters can be an exhilarating process, but it can also be quite challenging if this is something you aren’t used to. Names might not seem like all too big of a deal when designing characters – but trust us; they are. Names can subconsciously affect how readers/viewers think of a character, so it’s important to choose a name that fits the narrative and image you have for them.
Fortunately, there are a couple of tips that can make creating names for fantasy characters much easier. Here are three tips to help you come up with unique and fitting names for your characters.
Factor in Their Backstories
First things first; you need to consider your character’s background and culture. When creating a fantasy world, it’s important to consider the different cultures and societies that exist within it. Each culture may have its own naming conventions and traditions, so it’s vital to think about where your character comes from and what kind of name would be fitting for them.
For example, a character from a mediaeval European-inspired culture might have a more traditional name, while a character from a fantastical Asian-inspired culture might have a more exotic name.
There are also a plethora of names that have meanings that could be ideal for one or more of your characters depending on their deposition and culture, so this could be worth looking into if you want to go down this route.
Factoring in your character’s backstories is a must when creating names, and this should be the first thing you do before brainstorming any ideas.
Look To The Real World
During the creation process of a fantasy world, the last place you would want to look for inspiration is the real world. The entire point of creating a fantasy world is to allow people to escape the day-to-day troubles that plague us all – surely you would want to distance yourself from anything to do with real life? Well, not exactly.
Fantasy worlds often have their own fictional languages and alphabets, but it can also be helpful to look to real-world languages for inspiration. Using a name from a real-world language can add depth and realism to your fantasy world, and it will also help readers relate to your characters.
To give an example; you could use a Welsh name for a character from a Celtic-inspired culture which could add authenticity to the character and their background. If all else fails, you could just as easily solicit the help of a fantasy nickname generator to give you some ideas – this is actually a solution that is used by many successful writers.
Looking to the real world has inspired countless incredible fantasy worlds, and it may be able to help you get out of the rut you are currently stuck in. Just make sure not to use generic names like Bob or Steve for your main characters (no offence if your name is Bob or Steve!). This would be missing the mark quite substantially.
In stark contrast to our previous point; you may want to get creative with the sounds and meanings of your fantasy characters if you are really looking to go for something different. Fantasy names don’t have to follow the same rules as real-world names.
You can play around with the sounds and meanings of the name to create something that is unique and fitting for the character. For example, you can take a real-world name and change the spelling to make it more unique. Or, you could use a word that has a fitting meaning for the character and turn it into a name.
Something that is worth mentioning if you want to go down the creative route is that there is such a thing as too far. If all of your characters have difficult-to-pronounce, unfamiliar names, it may be a little harder for your audience to engage with your writing.
This doesn’t apply if you only add small twists to names, but you certainly do not want to go around giving all your characters names that your audience is going to forget as soon as they have been introduced to them.
As long as you use it sparingly and with taste, getting a little wild with your names can be a great idea, and it could do wonders for making certain characters stand out among the rest.
We hope this article will be of use to you. Listen; figuring out how to name fantasy characters is no joke. It takes years to come up with fantasy names that you are confident with quickly, and you shouldn’t expect to come up with the perfect name first try if you have not been at this for a while.
However, with these tips, you should be able to create unique and fitting names for your characters and bring them to life in your fantasy world. Remember to consider the character’s background and culture, look to real-world languages for inspiration, and get creative with the sounds and meanings of names. Happy naming!