My book is totally fantasy, full of made up countries and places, all with fictional names I created, but most of my characters have real names. Some are English, others are Asian, and some are even African, since the world is pretty big and I didn't want all of the names to have the same nationality. I don't know if this is actually a problem, since none of the people that have read my drafts ever said anything about names, not even about the harder ones, but I think it's worth asking.

Should my book have only invented names, or is it okay to have a mix of both? And should I avoid Asian/African names, since they are harder to pronounce?

  • 1
    Regarding your secondary question, we've got a couple of questions about hard-to-pronounce names already: writing.stackexchange.com/q/52025/23927 writing.stackexchange.com/q/41740/23927
    – F1Krazy
    Aug 17, 2020 at 20:08
  • How deep do you want to get into linguistics? Are you developing a fictional language, just want some consistency with naming, or don't quite care about consistency at all?
    – Alexander
    Aug 17, 2020 at 21:14
  • @Alexander No I dont have a complex fictional language, the only original words are names of places or creatures, and I guess those dont really matter. Languages have their own names but they are equivalent to the real ones, english language has another name but its still english for an example. Aug 17, 2020 at 22:15
  • @F1Krazy thanks, thats perfect. Aug 17, 2020 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


When creating fictional world, names serve the purpose of worldbuilding. They invoke memories and feelings from the reader and help to establish linguistic and cultural connections.

First of all, the names should be consistent. You don't want to have John, Bob and K'Tan'Amezoal hailing from the same village without a very good explanation.

Next, if parts of your world are based on real life countries, it's entirely up to you how creative you want to be with your naming. You may go to the extremes of using only the real life names typical for those countries, or only invented names that sound vaguely English (or vaguely Chinese) for example, or any mix of that - all approaches had been already tried in literature. The most popular tradition, as far as I can tell, is to be somewhat creative - use a mix of real, real, but outdated and completely fictitious names.

Another advise that I can give - if you are not very familiar with a certain language or culture and try to insert a character from that culture in your book - be very careful with giving this character a name that you think is natural for that culture.

  • Yes I did take care about everything you said. Just wanted to know if it would get in the way of the experience having a lot of names with different nationalities, since they can be hard to pronounce to certain people. Thanks for the advice! Aug 17, 2020 at 23:16

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