How do You Name Your Characters?


Names are an odd thing, I find. Naming my characters isn’t something I have trouble with, in fact, most of my characters end up with names pretty quickly. There have only ever been two instances where I’ve used place holder names for my characters.

Both of those characters were in my current work. The first one was a female half-dragon, I simply just couldn’t find a name that I liked. Her place holder name was Mary until the end of the poorly crafted outline, when I finally decided on her name: Tael’rah. It’s a strange name, I think, even for my fantasy world’s standards, but it’s a name that seems exotic at first glance and it really fit’s her character. Unpredictable, fancy, and powerful.

The second character was another half-dragon, but a male. He wasn’t going to be in the book originally, but I decided before starting the first draft that I needed another character. So, Eldjcer was created to suit the purpose of Tael’rah’s partner (sometimes in crime). I actually don’t remember what his place holder name was, but it was something dumb that I never had any intentions of using. Though Eldjcer didn’t have much of a purpose at first, I quickly crafted his character into one I couldn’t have my story without. He’s now a talented half-dragon mage that grew from the role of outsider to an equal amongst other dragons.

Together Eldjcer and Tael’rah are a feisty pair of dragons, but most of all, they’re friends that would have no second thoughts over dying for the other.

All of my other works in progress all have names that I never intended to use as place holders (though things change, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of them changed later on once I get to working on them). I guess I’ll try and describe the process that I use to come up with a character name.

It all starts with introducing the character to myself. I write a scene with them, prior to naming them, and get a glimpse of their interactions with the world. After I feel I’ve gotten to know them a bit, generally I’ll have a word that relates to that character, or a sound. With that word or sound, I’ll find names that I feel are somewhat related to them in ways that I like, or just names that interest me and have potential to be used for that character. Next, I use that list of names I have and mix and match sounds and letters to come up with a name that looks pleasing and seems fitting. Of course, this doesn’t always work, but I’ve had a fair bit of success with it and it most definitely works for me more often than not.

Just in case anyone was wondering, this is how I pronounces Tael’rah and Eldjcer:

Tael’rah = Tale – ra

Eldjcer = Ell – ee – er

That’s just how I pronounce them, it’s probably not even correct, but either way I don’t really mind what other people’s interpretations of the names are. (What can I expect with names like those, anyway?)

Do you guys have special methods used for naming your characters?

~ Erynn


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