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The One Where I Determine Character Names

Those who are not authors might think it's a skill coming up with names for characters. I can't speak for any other authors out there, but I wouldn't consider it a virtuosity. The naming of a character happens for me one of two ways, either one pops into my head while I'm brooding over the plotline or I have to put some serious effort into actually thinking of a name.

Most of the names of characters in my first book came naturally. As I was thinking about the personality of each one, a name usually slid into place, fitting them perfectly. For example, my antagonist Zerrec. I knew I wanted a name that started with a 'Z' because I wanted it to be unique. My other thought was that I wanted something harsh to the ears so that there was a sound associated with his villainy. True, most people do not talk out loud as they read, but you still hear the word(s) in your head. When readers say the name Zerrec, I want there to be the slightest cringey uncomfortable feeling from the name. I think I hit the nail on the head since many readers have told me they didn't like his character. All I can say is, "Thank you very much, that was the whole point."

When a character name doesn't come easily, I do more legwork to find the right name to fit the personality. For example, Kamaria, the giant Shade Bear that is Terren's bond partner. Kamaria is from a species that only exists in the Shade Realm, and they are worshipped by the Isokanii. In the Sun Realm, there are tales of giant beasts and people that only walk in the moonlight, they are difficult to see, and many do not believe that they exist. Since the Isokanii people in my novel are heavily influenced by Tribal Africa, I searched for a name in various African languages reminiscent of the ideas of moonlight, nighttime, nightly stroll, silver, and white--all the things that make you think of a dark night and the moon.

The last way I come up with names is by using others' names or using a root name of someone I know and tweaking it. For example, Lady Liane, Kiira's aunt in my novel. I actually came up with this name by using my own mother's name as inspiration. Kiira's mother, Jurica, is the name of someone I used to work with, and loved the unique pronunciation of her name.

So, inspiration for names comes from a lot of different places for me. I can give several more examples of how I come up with the various names in my book, but each usually boils down to one of the three ways mentioned above. I can also guarantee that a large portion of my time is dedicated to a name generation website(s) to find names or combining parts of multiple names. My favorite website for an exhaustive list of names is If that is too overwhelming, I meander over to the hundreds of baby name websites that exist out there.

I actually find that coming up with names for my characters rather fun. I have to force myself not to spend too much time on the details of such otherwise I'd never get any actual writing done. That's all for now, Fictionados!

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