Obviously, Science Fiction and Fantasy stories tend to rely heavily on names for people, places, things, species, countries etc. that are wholly new inventions.
So the questions are: Do you have a process for thinking up new names in your stories? Or do you pick at random? Are there any names you particularly like or dislike in the fiction you read? Are there any qualities that a 'good' name should have? Let us know below ...
sometimes I use a name to indicate a deeper historical/mythological meaning as in Deus ex Machina. Other times I might want to sort of give a "tip of the the hat" so to speak to an old friend and sometimes I just pick a name that sounds right for the character.
I'm not crazy about weird other worldly names that can't be pronounced. I forget how I spelled it each following page anyway. Ask my editors.
Apart from avoiding heroic names such as 'Rik Thrust' or 'Hammer Steel', I tend to just pick names at random - while allowing for the reality of the setting. I do have a list of interesting real names I've picked up over the years from scientific journals, and tend to combine first and last names in combinations that I find pleasing. For no readily discernible reason, the name Hawk (in a number of variations) appears more often in my writing than any other. Maybe it's a nod to my early interest in the band Hawkwind or, perhaps, I'd unintentionally started my own version of Moorcock's 'Eternal Champion', by having numerous characters share similar names - though not the same traits and half of them don't live past the first story. Like RT, I do sometimes find it useful to steer the reader in a particular direction with a name - it can be useful shorthand when you're only writing short stories. Would Howard's stories have been quite so adventurous if the title characters had been called 'Conan the Farmer' or 'Peroxide Sonja'. 'Vice-President Kull' doesn't carry the gravitas afforded by 'King'. Equally, you can over-balance a character (if not a story) with an inappropriate moniker - I was never a fan of 'Dirk Pitt'.
@r.tornello: He he he - I know that feel. But there is hope in the Find all/Replace function in word. Very handy ; - )
@Ironspider:'Rik Thrust'? Good Lord that's a serious moniker! ... "interesting real names I've picked up over the years from scientific journals," ... I'm not a scientist, but I read quite a lot in the area of applied linguistics and - I swear - some of the names of real people in that field (and I mean from my own culture, not far flung places, if that is sayable makes sense) often make me laugh - not cruelly, but just ... you know, because. I read of one yesterday with the surname 'Bod'. How have I never encountered anyone with that surname in my life? Amazing really ...
@Ironspider: Oh, I forgot to say - Howard would have been so much more intriguing - not to mention prescient - had he called that character 'Peroxide Sonja'(!)
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