In my writing, I tend to agonize over two main items; my openers for each chapter and creating the oh-so perfect character name. Well, let’s be honest, I fuss over every element of story-telling; I merely spend the most time on the aforementioned components.
An attention-grabbing beginning to a chapter, whether it be intense action or an emotional outburst, speaks for itself. It should immediately pull the reader into your world and take them on the proverbial roller coaster ride where the momentum never stops until it collides with the last page.
Although there are similarities, a well-crafted character name will often help in establishing mannerisms, temperament, and even appearance of those bringing your words to life. As an old paper D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) player and participant in the occasional MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), I remember putting in loads of time creating names suitable for my Elven druid or Human paladin. My husband and I have lists to this day we often reference when starting the next big adventure. No matter the genre, a few commonly held rules are followed when naming main and supporting characters.
Try to avoid sound similarities or readers may spend more time scratching their heads attempting to remember if it was Greg or Gray who betrayed Leon in chapter 4; they are definitely spelled differently but can be easily confused in a tale with complex storylines.
Now, contrary to what I just mentioned, do establish a naming convention when creating a new race. This will apply to first names, last names or both depending on how you want those names to look and sound. When creating the Hyprovians, I gravitated towards names with tok, kor and con in the naming scheme. In book two of the Sy’Arrian Legacy Series, readers will learn about Kresnaw Craycon and Aranus Friskor. In the same breath, do not be afraid to break away from an established naming convention. Variety is the spice of life and readers will respect you more if they see a willingness to move out of your comfort zone.
Similar to what I mentioned above, respect genealogy. Even though my story takes place in an entirely different quadrant of the universe where I have created my own races, the Sy’Arrians are descendants from Earth. In their naming scheme, I did create unique first and last names; however, if the character’s background dated back to a specific culture, I researched the appropriate names based on their gender. If there is a deviation from an established convention it is best to reveal it during character development.
Standard search engines such as Google help immensely when looking for popular baby names or determining origin. One source I like to use is The Writer’s Digest: Character Naming Sourcebook, second edition, copyright 2005, written by Sherrilyn Kenyon. It is a wonderful resource and I highly recommend it.
Feel free to post your questions, comments or concerns. I will respond, if need be, when I able.