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A name is a name

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Inspiration comes in many forms.  An image might capture our imagination; a song may sweep us up and away into realms otherwise unknown; a movie, a conversation, the bright moonlight or a sighing sea.  Yet when it comes to choosing names for our characters, what inspires? How do you choose from, literally, thousands of options, and can you ever be certain you’ve made the right choice?

Short of the character nodding in agreement or stepping out of the void and introducing themselves by name, you simply have to go on instinct. What sounds right or what feels right, or sometimes, what feels Wrong (as in the case of Uxvagchtr, the leader of all Reviled Fey who is the spawn of evil itself.)  Have you ever begun writing a story and part way through you decide the name you originally decided on is decidedly NOT the right one?  I have, and thank the merciful and ingenious Heaven’s above for Word’s Find/Replace function!

Choosing names for characters born in our own realm might be challenging enough, but how does one select a name for a character native to another realm, where languages differ and traditions vary?  For me, it has always been a relatively instinctive matter and one that is particularly difficult to explain or describe, although I’ve been asked on more than one occasion ‘just how exactly I came up with ‘that’.

For example:  take my protagonist in Dark Fey, Ayla Yna.  Her name sprang from a collection I have of fairies (created by the exceptional artist Myka Jelina.)  Her beautiful fairies all have relatively ordinary names, or so I tend to think (and I may be wrong, because what’s in a name?…but let me not digress too far).  So, one fair afternoon several years ago I decided to think up more interesting names for them.  How?  I simply created.  It’s always been a gift of mine, coming up with my own words (take Liquescent, a word I use often in my poetry, which isn’t actually in the dictionary {yet!})  I made up a few rules as I was naming these fairies: things like females all have a Y in their name (which I kept true to in Dark Fey) or that a double Y (yy) is pronounced E, or that there were common secondary names, like middle the names for we human beings such as Ann or Marie.  My fairies had similar secondary names such as Yna, Inna, and Elestra.  Why?  No particular reason, other than that’s what I wanted.

SO, to make a short story Long, Ayla Yna came directly out of that list of names I created out of boredom and a creative bent of mind.  Several of Dark Fey’s supporting characters names came out of similar imaginative turns.  The Healer/Counsellor Veryth was named for his distinctive emeraldine eyes, and his name sprang from the word viridian, a colour that is nearly green.  The beautiful waterfalls Veryn Falls was likewise christened because of its lush green bastions and the sparkling emeraldine pool at its base.

Perhaps less interestingly, the young Healer Evondair got his name simply as a derivation of the name Evander, which I took a fancy to, but found just slightly boring spelled that way.  Of course, all malefey have names that include a trilled R. Why?  Because I like it.  So Veryth’s name is more a sound than an actual word, as is the Fey Guard Captain Bryth.  (The Y in these names sounds like a short I by the way, as in IN or Fin.)

The key supporting character Mardan was named, I confess, for Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, who in part inspired the character, (Thanks Martin!)  Rehstaed, Nunvaret, Senzuur, Dravahl, Lorszan and, most especially the youthful Elder Zraylaunyth were names I created off the top of my head. I chose a letter of the alphabet I hadn’t used yet and played.   So you see, a name may be a name may be a name, unless the name is not the same as any other name that is merely a name.

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How do YOU come up with your character names? I’d love to hear!

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Learn to Speak Celebrae, the High Language of the Fey of the Light

Learn to Speak Dlalth, the Dark Language of the Reviled.

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~Morgan~