Questions tagged [naming]

Questions about creating and using names.

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59
votes
23answers
9k views

Choosing character names is a constant difficulty

I find it hard to name my characters. Every normal name sounds funny if applied to a product of my fantasy. If I take a common name, I may get the image of someone I know into my head. And that may ...
41
votes
14answers
12k views

Do hard to pronounce names break immersion?

I have a character in my book named Jiolluav (with the correct accent, Zholl-you-of or /ʒōl-'yoo-äv/), and I've written my entire "novel" (it's a work in progress) using this name. When I asked a ...
36
votes
13answers
10k views

What are the Pros and Cons of long names?

Background: I'm developing names for places/characters/races/etc. in my world. One example are a particular political sect. The sect are a group within a different species that are named (the species ...
33
votes
10answers
10k views

Would it be cheating to change the main character's “name” partway through the story?

I'm writing a story written in third-person limited, and the main character has no real name. They simply go by the nickname they're given by the people they hang around at the time, resulting in many ...
31
votes
5answers
3k views

Avoiding repetition when there are two unidentified individuals

The tall figure was overwhelmingly tall. It stood in the corner of the room. The skinny figure right beside him sat on a chair. It wasn't moving at all. The tall figure moved to the opposite side ...
26
votes
10answers
12k views

Any Technique to See if Your Idea is Original?

I usually get quite a lot of ideas for stories, but every time I want to develop them into a full fledged story, I get paranoid about how it might not be an original idea, and how it might be ...
24
votes
18answers
5k views

What should I do when I am stuck on names during freewriting?

If I get hung up choosing a name for a character, should I come back to it later? Or should I try to figure one out? I feel like sometimes I have some momentum going forward and taking too much time ...
23
votes
5answers
8k views

Can I use the name Valerian in my sci-fi novel?

I have an Ancient Roman theme with the names of my characters, however someone pointed out to me Valerian is already a scifi character's name. Are the french comics (which spell it with an accent over ...
22
votes
12answers
5k views

Character is called by their first initial. How do I write it?

A character's name starts with a hard G, as in Gary. Another character (dismissively) calls him by his first initial "G", said with a soft G, as in gee whiz. I've been using the letter G, but it's ...
22
votes
8answers
3k views

Referring to different instances of the same character in time travel

I am writing a story that involves time travel, and I have a chapter where a character from the future interacts with his present-day self. This chapter is written from the present-day self's POV. ...
21
votes
3answers
3k views

How should one refer to knights (& dames) in academic writing?

In ordinary English usage, one would refer to a knight called 'Forename Surname' as Sir Forename, not Surname, e.g. Sir Forename is distinguished in ... But in academic writing, one would typically ...
21
votes
2answers
16k views

Are Names of Characters Copyrighted by Authors?

Are names of characters copyrighted by authors? For example, the character "Eragon" from the Inheritance Cycle series, or a name that you've generated using an online name generator that you'd like to ...
20
votes
9answers
2k views

Every character has a name - does this lead to too many named characters?

My tendency when writing is to give every character a name. Even the most minor ones. It says something about a nobleman when he knows every guard and stablehand by name, and it's something I want. So ...
20
votes
7answers
682 views

How to deal with common Earth references in a non-Earth setting?

Until now, I have mostly written in settings similar enough to Earth, mostly with human beings. For the first time, I am writing a short story set on a different planet, where the protagonists are not ...
19
votes
5answers
10k views

Current events may have ruined a name I was going to use

In the middle-grade series I'm working on, there are two organizations: one led by the antagonist, and one that opposes them, which the protagonists join. In the setting of the series, a very small ...
18
votes
11answers
7k views

How can I make names more distinctive without making them longer?

In the point-of-view culture in my story, all of the women in priestly families have two-syllable names beginning with vowels. (There are reasons for this, but they're completely unrelated to my ...
18
votes
7answers
5k views

Would it confuse my readers to give two siblings nicknames that can be abbreviations of the same name?

In my book, there's two brothers, who are named Nick and Cole. Now, I've always thought that Nick and Cole are cool names, so therefore I named the two brothers "Nick and Cole". But then I found out ...
18
votes
7answers
5k views

How to address family members solely by relationship in dialogue?

Most English speakers probably just care about You, Mom, Dad, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents, Great-Grandparents and Ancestors, Children, Grandchildren, etc. That's great... as long as you are ...
18
votes
4answers
4k views

Would it be a copyright violation if I made a character’s full name refer to a song?

I want to write a realistic fiction book similar to Thomas Hardy’s works, where he used techniques and Biblical references (they were also called allusions) to make his writing more meaningful, and to ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the art of designing names?

If you read names from popular novels you feel like the names define characters. They fit perfectly to the personality of character. For an e.g. Harry Potter, Robert Langdon, Jason Bourne, etc. I ...
16
votes
10answers
6k views

Are connotations with certain names inevitable?

In my book (fantasy novel), there's a character named Brad. Unfortunately, Brad has become synonymous with "douchebag". Now, when I first introduced him I just came up with a name. It needed to be on ...
16
votes
6answers
3k views

Naming Characters after Friends/Family

I drafted a book two years ago that I'm now polishing to publish. When I drafted it, for speed's sake, I named one of my primary characters after an old school friend who I'm still in contact with on ...
16
votes
6answers
27k views

Characters with no names

I've got a few short stories going, and I've foregone naming any of my characters. It started because I just didn't have any good names in my head and I was going to take care of it later, but now I'm ...
13
votes
11answers
5k views

How to differentiate between two people with the same name in a story?

I am writing a story in which at some point two characters with the same name interact each other. I can't use their last name to differentiate because it's necessary for them to have no last name. ...
13
votes
5answers
4k views

Can I use my legal name as the protagonist if I'm pitching my book to traditional publishers under a pen name?

Can I use my legal name as the protagonist if I'm pitching my book to traditional publishers under a pen name? Would I be rejected for doing this?
13
votes
11answers
10k views

Inventing names for Sci-Fi characters

How can I invent names for fictional characters in a future-setting Sci-Fi story so they won't be connected to any existing culture? I considered the following options: Invent some random names. ...
13
votes
8answers
4k views

What to call a main character who changes names?

I'd like to write a story, in the third-person perspective, centering on a character who changes her name several times in the course of the story. She uses her birth name for the first couple of ...
13
votes
3answers
5k views

I gave my characters names that are exactly like another book. Is it a problem?

Ok, so, I am currently writing a book and 3 of my characters have the same name as in another novel. I didn't realize it until someone pointed it out to me. The names I picked are fairly common and ...
13
votes
9answers
2k views

Tools for generating characters' names

I found this name generator: http://www.fakenamegenerator.com And I'm wondering if maybe there are others? Has anybody found this kind of tool useful? What about tools for fantasy names? Should I ...
12
votes
6answers
701 views

Is it better to avoid names with a difficult pronunciation in Middle Grade fiction?

Many languages are written using Latin letters, but often these seemingly familiar letters aren't pronounced in the way that we are used to. For example, an English speaker might read the name ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

How to create a consistent feel for character names in a fantasy setting?

Recently while doing some world-building for a role-playing game with a friend we were seriously struggling with naming character consistently. By consistently I mean make the names feel as though ...
11
votes
7answers
24k views

Coming up with names for species in fiction?

When you are writing a story that is set in a fantasy world (maybe our world with just one made-up element, or a completely different world), what is a good way to come up with names for species that ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

On copyright laws and plots

I was pondering a lot on the issue with copyrights on plots. Is having an identical plot infringing someone else's copyrighted work? I am fully aware that the character names are copyrighted and ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

How to name indistinguishable henchmen in a screenplay?

A large group of indistinguishable henchman feature throughout my screenplay. What is an acceptable naming method for them? Let's say I wanna call them 'Red shirts'. Can I ... A) Call them all RED ...
10
votes
9answers
3k views

Stereotypical names

In every country, some names are particularly common: 'John' in the UK, 'Juan' in Spain, 'Ivan' in Russia. Those names are common almost to the point of being stereotypical (consider 'John Doe'). If ...
10
votes
7answers
12k views

Is it OK to refer to some characters by first name and to others by last name?

I'm writing the outline for my first novel, which has three main characters. I'm very happy with their names, however I recently noticed that I was naturally referring to the first two by first name, ...
10
votes
10answers
2k views

How to keep a main character nameless?

I'm currently writing a story about a girl who was found by a couple in a magical isolated town, where everyone is named by the leader. I want her to not have a name because of two reasons: She doesn'...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

How can I introduce the names of fantasy creatures to the reader?

In the story, these fantasy creatures are everyday animals that most people in the story already know. How can I introduce them in an natural way that instantly makes readers remember their names? The ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

How to have a character be nameless for the first few paragraphs of a book?

Let me first explain what is going in in the beginning of the story: My main character belongs to a tribal culture that requires their children pass a rite of passage to earn their name. So I'm kind ...
10
votes
5answers
992 views

What should the omniscient narrator call a character?

Let there be a character. Let the character's name be, for example, Alexander. Now, Alexander's parents call him 'Sasha'. His friends call him 'Xander'. His girlfriend calls him 'Alex'. In formal ...
9
votes
7answers
706 views

Characters with non-standard names

My characters' names are always easy-to-read and easy-to-remember because they are common western names (like John or Oscar). However, I am writing a story that has a cultural flavor. A western ...
9
votes
7answers
730 views

Potential confusion: referring to home planet as “Earth”

I'm writing a science fiction story and it's based in another galaxy, colonised by humans originally on a geographically equivalent "Earth". My current usage refers to it as "Earth"...
9
votes
6answers
2k views

Naming Side characters

So, basically, how do you name side characters? I get that you should give the main characters meaningful names, but finding suitable names for all of my characters is distracting and time-consuming. ...
9
votes
4answers
415 views

How to tag distinct options/entities without giving any an implicit priority or suggested order?

An example of the problem in an aggravated form surrounds the controversy of France changing ‘mother’ and ‘father’ to ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’ in official paperwork - where the controversy suggests ...
9
votes
3answers
294 views

Is it legal to name a character in a story after a disguised trademark?

I'm writing a sci-fi book series. As a true nerd, I want to use some characters to "do homage" to famous scientists, acronyms for experimental methods, and (here's the question) trademarked ...
9
votes
4answers
3k views

What are some good strategies to use when naming a fictional city?

I've read a lot of the questions on here concerning naming characters and deciding on whether to use a fictional city. I have already decided to use a fictional city in the piece. But, my problem with ...
9
votes
3answers
365 views

Naming non-English folklore creatures

I'm working on a novel that involves folklore/mythological creatures from mainly the Norse and Scandinavian myths, but in the world of the novel, there exists beings from all cultures. I wish to write ...
9
votes
4answers
276 views

How to create place names that feel like they belong to a culture?

As somewhat of a follow-up to my previous question: How to create a consistent feel for character names in a fantasy setting? Once I have named the characters in a given setting, how do I create ...
8
votes
5answers
306 views

About using authentic historical name for teenager material

I am writing a (short) story set in Ancient Egypt, and the intended audience are junior high-senior high school students in the US. I am trying to use authentic Ancient Egyptian names for the ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

What are good resources to get fantasy names?

I have trouble coming up with fantasy names. I've used random name generators but they weren't very helpful. Is there a website that would have fantasy names or Norse, or Celtic names?