6 Comments

Picking Names

unicorn nameI really, really love those silly memes on Facebook that tell you what your name would be in a given world. Your Elf name. Your Fairy Name. Your Hunger Games name. Your Lord of the Rings name. So on.

I came across one yesterday that is your unicorn name. Mine’s Perky Happy Feet. They’re so ridiculous, and yet they’re so much fun, especially the ones based on works of literature.

And so I got to thinking, how cool would it be to have one of those memes based on one of my books?

The reality of making that happen is immense. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be incredibly difficult to elf namedo. Aside from having a book that is so popular that everyone in the country (and lots of the rest of the world) knows about it and a bunch of them have read it, you also have to have a system in place, and names that are unique and easily identifiable.

For example, most of my novels take place in a modern, real-world setting, so my characters have names like Miranda and Nick and Jack and Bridget and Keira. They’re very American names. If you read a list of names from my books, you’d never be able to identify them as specifically Avily’s Characters, whereas Bilbo and Frodo are pretty distinctive.

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan has specific types of names for different nationalities. You can recognize where someone is from based on their last name in lots of instances.

So, in addition to world building, I’d have to also build a language and a system for creating names that is unique and recognizable, that makes sense within the world, and make the names distinctive based on race (for example Hobbits, Dwarves, and Elves) or different nationalities (as in the Wheel of Time) or whatever other systems are set up in my world.

Of all my stories, the main one that would be a candidate for this sort of distinctive name creation would be The Amulet Saga. (For those of you who were sad to see this series end and wonder what happened, I’m almost done with the additional stories that finish the series and complete the tale.) I’d have to change some of the names, like Margaret and William, but I could do that without too much trouble if I came up with a system for formulating names within the world.

And, of course, I have to publish it and sell millions of copies so everyone recognizes it and wants to find their own name within the world based on the first letter of their real name and the color of underwear they’re wearing or whatever silly formula the meme-wizard decides on.

And I should probably come up with a better title than “The Amulet Saga,” because “What’s Your Amulet Saga Name?” sounds silly on a meme.

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About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

6 comments on “Picking Names

  1. > And I should probably come up with a better title than “The Amulet Saga,” because “What’s Your Amulet Saga Name?” sounds silly on a meme.

    No it doesn’t. Put another way, how does this sound sillier than “What’s Your LOTR Name?”, “What’s Your Game of Thrones Name?” or (God help us all) “What’s Your Twilight Name?” 😛 (I wish you very well in your efforts, by the way; your article was fun and edifying.) “What’s Your Metacosmic Name?” or “What’s Your Covenant Name?” or “What’s Your Ring of Stars Name?” – any one of which would work based on my fictional multiverse – they sound no more and no less “silly” than yours or any of the others. Either way, I’d be laughing all the way to the bank. 😉 So should you. 🙂

    OK then, what about this? (So far as I know I am the only spec-fic writer of ANY kind who has ever based some element of his fiction on the following. Naturally I am looking for others as I go.)

    (Revelation 2:17 RSV) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers… I will give… a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it.

    Of course one has to come up with a logical framework in which such could be revealed to the reader. I did. But already I’d established that my main protagonist Alain Harper collects names and epithets like some people collect butterflies – and many if not all of those names, like he himself, have a “archetypal quality” about them. When the occasion arose, a White Stone Name arose for him spontaneously, from what part of my mind I know not – but it was the most deeply archetypal name yet, somehow, in my reaction to it. It “rang true”. You will find it on page 7, near the bottom, in the following e-zine:

    http://crossandcosmos.com/images/stories/issue15.pdf

    “What’s Your White Stone Name?” not only sounds epic on its face, it’s both deep and paradoxical – you see, you’re not supposed to tell anybody. 😀 LOL Well, later in Alain’s set of timelines he is allowed to do so, and so we can get around that.

    • Oh: “What’s Your Levani Name?” (parallel to “Elf Name”) would have a special faculty for “silly memes” because there’s a well-known and excellent random name generator out there from which I ALWAYS get Levani names, first and last.

      “What’s Your Adami Name?” OK, the formula I use: 1) the first name should be English (Common) and ideally is based on Hebrew or Greek (Adamic or Angelic; “Alain” is a rare exception); 2) the last name should combine two English words (“Harper” again is very exceptional). “Raphael Goldwing”, Alain Harper’s Sentry, is a good example. Weirder: the sentry “Sledge Hammerstrike”. Nicholas Blackthorn, Slate Rockmire, Hilo Whitemoon, Callista Brandywine… the list goes on and on. And yes, Michael Abramson, Alain’s White Stone Name in Common translation from the Adamic, happens to fit the paradigm. 😀

      • Thank you! I LOVE seeing the thought process there! That’s what I’m looking for, because I don’t even really know where to begin.

        • I “stole” the last name method from 1) Tolkien, 2) Lucas, and 3) a probable influence on both, namely the formation of some English family names. I just do it more consistently than most authors I’ve seen. Adami (normal Human) names follow the above double formula, but most of the list I actually give you are names given Archons (immortal, “dual-phase” beings usually in Human form).

          The Serendipity Name Generator has been useful for me on several levels. I use the Fantasy Name Generator for Levani first and last names. Enoshi (half-Levani, half-Adami) names like Ashrey Chellenifer generally have Adamic or Common first names (Ashrey is Adamic or Hebrew, “blessedness-of” as in Psalm 1:1); the Fantasy Name Generator creates the last names.

          http://nine.frenchboys.net/

          Don’t use the Fantasy Name Generator too often or people might suspect collusion between us! 😉 (But we two couldn’t possibly be the only two using that Generator…)

        • The trick, I think, is to figure out where your capacity for logical thinking of either kind is, especially logical systems thinking, in your mind. In someone like me (according to a model which follows), logical systems thinking is in the 7th position and usually unconscious, which gives it a certain “Cartoon Physics” quality. 🙂

          http://cognitiveprocesses.com/16Types/ENFP.cfm

          Your faculties might be lower still on the ladder and so harder to access for any length of time (hint: the better you are at the so-called Feeling or value-based functions, the harder the so-called Thinking or logical ones are for you) – but if so, take heart. Just slow down and wait until you find them. They’re there.

          An example (INFP faces the same difficulty of access):

          http://cognitiveprocesses.com/16Types/ISFP.cfm

        • One more thing: I’d be Jolly Prancing Unicorn. 😀 LOL Pretty apt, in fact.

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