Naming Stuff Is Hard

I now feel sorry for anyone who has a kid.  Or a pet.  Hell, even their own business, I guess.

For the better part of a week, I’ve been doing the background work on a series of stories.  They’re going to be set in a world analogous (nice word, huh?) with Europe, Asia and Africa of about 600 A.D. or so.  Of course, when you do something like this, it’s probably a good idea to know exactly where your stories are taking place, right?  I decided to take a page out of Robert Howard’s book and make everything sound as close to “real” as possible.  That meant that I couldn’t just make up names for things.  If a country is based on Anglo-Saxon England, then it should have a vaguely Germanic-sounding name, right?  I’ve been scouring Wikipedia and every history book I can get my grubby little hands so I can add that extra bit of “reality” to give these stories weight.

And let me tell you, it’s hard.

Now I know why a lot of people who write fantasy-type stories rely on names that sound like they came right out of Dungeons & Dragons, it’s easier.  I’ve done it before, I should know.  It was easier, but it never sounded “right” to me.  Maybe those kinds of names sound better in an “epic” or “high” fantasy story, but that’s not really where I’m headed with these.  Hell, even J.R.R. Tolkien–the grand-daddy of worldbuilding–used a lot of names for things that sound like gobbledygook (sure, his cultures were pretty concrete, but some of those names…whew)

Anyways…it’s weird.  I’m walking around with my little notebook, jotting down names that pop into my head so I can see if they’re real people or places later on and sketching maps.  It’s almost as if I’m finally using my archaeology degree.  Go me!

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: To anyone out there who’s ever had to name something, my hat is off to you.

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2 responses to “Naming Stuff Is Hard

  1. I like doing the research (I’m a nerd :smile:) but I hate the fact it sidetracks me from writing.

  2. Oh, I don’t mind the research (I used to read the encyclopedia for fun). But, it’s one thing to research a story set in Depression Era Chicago and another thing to have to create everything from the ground up.

    But, yeah, I’m with you–I hate that the researching takes time away from the writing.

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