I spent this past weekend at Luncaon and had a blast. One of my panels was “What’s in a Name.” In fantasy, magical power is often attached to the name of a person or thing (we talked about Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books as an example). As writers, what names do we choose, and what do those choices reveal about the world we’re writing about?
*both first names and last names have meaning
*practical tip: use different-sounding names to delineate characters (for example, how will readers keep Noel, Niall, and Nell apart? Better to use Noel, Bastien, and Yves)
*baby naming books are good sources for names, their origin, and their meaning
*books and websites about genealogy may reveal information about the meaning and origins of last names
*characters’ nicknames reveal character in a different way
*the names you choose may reflect the kind of story you are telling (romantic names in a romantic book; funny names in a funny book, etc)
*the musicality of a character’s name can resonate or conflict with a name’s meaning or the character’s defining traits
*convey essential information about the work
*just like naming a baby, the title will come easily for some books and take a lot of consideration for others
*in a series, it is important to link one book title to another in some way. Like a book’s cover, related titles help signal to a potential reader that the books in a series are linked
*don’t get too attached to a book’s title. Publishers will often change a book’s title before publication; a title is a crucial marketing hook, and signals to readers what kind of story is behind the name.