February 1, 2010

The Dark Elven Lord of Aathylvin…Bob

Posted in Tales from the Author's Desk at 10:58 am by jajohnson7

Ah, the mysteries (and pronunciation problems) of fantasy names. Is there anything more likely to send the un-initiated screaming in the other direction as if chased by the basset hounds of hell themselves?

But which do you prefer? The Saruman’s and Eowyn’s, or the Harry’s and Percy’s. Maybe you’re like Tamora Pierce, whose first quartet has names like Alanna and George, but whose latest features Beka and Rosto. Maybe, a la Order of the Stick, humans have “normal” names and other species don’t.

I have always preferred the strange names. They just…radiate fantastical elements. It wasn’t until I was trying to invent decent names for my current project’s characters that I realized how much trouble it is.

I have always had trouble with names. I once had a baby doll named – wait for it – Baby. I had the bear from the Snuggles commercials. When I saw he had a name on his tag already, he officially became: Snuggles.

So why should writing be any different? I’m constantly referring to random fantasy name generators, trying to pick out decent pieces that work well together, but I consistently end up with unsatisfactory results. I kept pushing the problem aside however. I told myself I was going to make this work.

Until now.

I just don’t care anymore. Why waste all the energy on finding the right “fantasy” name when I can just as easily pick out a normal name. Besides, for my main character, Evelyn Ward sounds so much better than Kaya Brinnasdaughter (first version) or Kaya Ward (second). And her sister’s name is pronounced almost identically whether you spell it Hana (first/second) or Hannah (third).

That still leaves me with the problem of naming spirits, but the humans are going to have normal names and like it!



  1. Dan said,

    Bah, normal names. :p

    Actually I think the one novel attempt that I considered my most successful had mostly reasonable, or at least reasonably pronounceable, names.

    • jajohnson7 said,

      I came up with Aathylvin on the spot. I’m kind of liking it actually. Weird.

      My brother decided (oh so long ago) that he didn’t want to read Harry Potter because of the funny names. Now he’s a bigger fan than I am. Go figure.

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