How to Start Creating Names - The Art of World Building
Aug 022021
 
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We should start inventing names of people before places because we can name those locations after some of our characters. Objects should come later because these are sometimes named after places where they originated or were used dramatically. For people, choose a sovereign power where you wish to create names and think about the culture you’ve envisioned for them. Do they place importance on family names? Do they wish to honor both mother and father so that both surnames are taken by a child? If so, considering hyphenating that for clarity. This may also suggest names tend to be longer. Choose a rationale for the number and order of names. Decide if an initial given name is replaced by another at an important milestone in life. While inventing names using the techniques in this chapter, choose a few letter combinations, such as prefixes and suffixes, that are common, to begin creating a style of names within that sovereign power.

We’ll likely be creating names for multiple powers in our career, so we can just practice with this and improve as we go. I’m much better at this now than twenty years ago and you soon will be, too. Our story or world might also have multiple sovereign powers for which we intend to invent names, so try to vary the style of one place from another, but don’t worry over this too much. Countries that speak the same language will have some similarities.

For naming places and objects, the techniques in this chapter can get us started, and we can leverage some of those people names. Using a little ingenuity and some techniques, name generation can be fun. Sometimes we might have momentum doing this and it can be wise to just invent many names at once and save them for later. Lastly, we might also get started with those name generators and modify the results if they’re close to our desire.

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