Using Interesting Words to Name Characters/Places

All writers have love affairs with words. On some level, we all have that passion for language and voice. This passion drives us to tell our stories. Even for those who don’t write, words are still a mystifying, exciting, and fun experience.

A bit of wordplay (on top of paying close attention to words) is what keeps writing fun. I’ve used words to create characters names, cities, spells, and inventions. Authors do this all the time.

Examples!

  • Maven Calore from Red Queen (Victoria Aveyard). Maven similar to raven in cleverness. Calore similar to calor in Spanish (meaning “heat”) representing their ability to manipulate fire.
  • Margo Roth Spiegelman from Paper Towns (John Green), where Spiegelman means “mirror man,” meant to represent the ultimately reflective nature of our misconceptions of others.
  • Primrose Everdeen from The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins). “Primrose” means proper and beautiful, delicate and in need of protection as she appears in the first book.

 

I’ve always tried to use words thoughtfully and creatively. Examples:

  • City named Eidolon from An Echo: City filled with people who were like ghosts (eidolon = phantom/specter)
  • Character named Ren from The Nameless Queen: moves quickly like a bird (wren).
  • Character named Jevios from The Amateur Witch: rearranged spelling of “viejos”  which means “old” in Spanish. Guess who was super old? Jevios.

 

How about you? Do you use words creatively to name characters or cities?

Have you ever intentionally named a character based on their personality?

Do you scour resources like The Phrontistry and Word of the Day to find new and interesting words?

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5 thoughts on “Using Interesting Words to Name Characters/Places

  1. I’m not that picky about names, personally. I generally just write the name that pops in my head first or that I like 🙂

    I do love finding out about new words though! I have a notebook where I jot down interesting words and their meanings.

    • You should definitely check out the Phrontistry then (I think I linked it in the post). It’s got a whole archive of interesting and archaic words!

  2. I try to keep my names as unique as possible, but still readable. I spend a lot of time on names… sometimes I take names of people I know and rearrange the letters to make new names.

    • I did that a couple times, and then every new character I made, my family asked “is that one based on me this time? Is that your cousin?” It was a hoot

      • My two best friends asked me to write them into one of my stories one time. I had a plot idea where they would make an appearance, but I never ended up writing it.

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