naming conventions

Ordinarily, generating lists of names is my least favorite part of world-building. If a character develops too much before I pick a name it becomes nightmarish trying to find something that fits, whereas the earlier I pick the name the more they grow in tandem with it. But that means it is one of the first tasks I must complete, before the world grows too complicated. Phooey.

Well. I started brainstorming this cowboy vs. mermaid book and for the first time ever I am having a HOOT coming up with names. I think my prior agony was due to playing things safe. Either it was the sort of book where everybody had real world names and I had to spend hours scrolling through baby name sites trying to find those most elusive catches: the name that isn’t too weird but isn’t too common. OR it was the sort of book where everybody had secondary world names, which meant a different sort of agony as I worked out multiple distinct cultural naming conventions and fabricated names according to sounds common in each language–again, names which didn’t sound too weird or too much like a real world name with one letter swapped.

(The in-between is unbearable to me, by the way: I just cannot handle it when a fantasy culture tries to sell me on brothers named Edward and Marbonico. Ain’t happening.)

So what am I doing differently this time? I’m throwing the dictionary at the wall and seeing what spills out. Why go out of my way for bland and believable? Why not go hogwild with the English language, a la J.K. Rowling or Cat Valente? If nothing else, it’ll be memorable!

Without further ado, part of my list in progress:

  • Judge Oaken McGallan
  • Dr. Merriweather Winestaff
  • Ranger Sickleson
  • Serenity Happenstance
  • Temperance, Charity, Patience, and Harmony Wickenshaw, aka The Sisters
  • Burgundy Hollybrush
  • Featherly Pinstripe
  • Verity Honeycomb

And so on. Do you want to know more about these people? Because I sure do, and most of them aren’t anything but a name at the moment.