Writing Advice: Names in Fantasy Novels

After taking a one-month hiatus for travel and while I was finishing initial drafts of The Blinding Knife, the Writing Advice Post is back! This month, I am happy to address, in so far as my limited lights are able to illumine, how to come up with names for a fantasy novel. I chat at relative length about aesthetics, culture, history, social and commercial concerns. If you’re interested, please click here to see the post.

Also, I opine about this:


9 thoughts on “Writing Advice: Names in Fantasy Novels

  1. WD says:

    Thank you Brent for giving your advice on this, it is deeply appreciated. I have yet another question for you though, one that I myself seem to struggle with and seem to spend lots of money on trying to help. How do you organize your notes/thoughts/ideas? Do you write them down or type them? if so how do you keep everything together and easily accessed? I seem to have a few hundred papers full of ideas,notes, and thoughts for my novel and can’t seem to get them organized in a binder or on the computer! Any advice on this would be great!!!

  2. JabbaScript says:

    About the apostrophe: I think that sometimes an apostrophe is more acceptable than others. Religions, ancient lands, etc. (most notably, sword names) are almost synonymous with apostrophe’d names.

  3. Kan says:

    Neal Stephenson has some fun w/ the apostrophe in REAMDE as it deals with a WoW like computer game.

  4. bar1scorpio says:

    But why doesn’t anyone ever throw in the “!”? read as a clicking sound before pronouncing the letters. Like the !Kung people of the Kalahari Desert. (Yeah, minored in Anthro for a while.) Anyways, I’m pretty damned tired of appalling apostrophes appearing in fantasy & sci-fi, it’s a cheap attempt at making something look exotic, and it usually just grates on my nerves. It doesn’t make it look any more alien, it just means I have to ask this writer if they know how the damned name is supposed to be pronounced.

  5. Tim says:

    I don’t mind apostrophes as long as they do stand for something and are therefore appropriate, and it is reasonable to shorten the name.

    And they can enhance the exotic feel of a name – if they’re done right, which they very rarely are.

    I don’t like gratuitous apostrophe use, but I don’t mind it when it’s done sensibly.

    I think Brent had a “!” sound somewhere. I think it was in some of the place names (possibly Ymmuri ones, I think it was about there on the map), and possibly one of the people groups. The Friaki maybe? Were they !Friaki?

    1. bar1scorpio says:

      Ah. Mind you, I’ve yet to read any of Brent’s books. (I’m listening to them).

  6. JamesFaith says:

    It was in one of Durzo’s names – X!rutic Ur

    1. Tim says:

      There we go. Thanks for that.

  7. Royce says:

    Hey Mr.Weeks, I was wondering, as a teenager myself, what advice you would have for a young (as in teenager) writer beyond the customary “write, read, don’t stop if you love it”? I know that teenagers as a whole are not the greatest at commitment, but I honestly wish to become a published, successful author. So if there’s anything you remember from your teen years, or anything that you wish someone had taken the time to explain to you when you yourself were young then please do pass it on 🙂
    Thanks for taking the time to read this and please keep up the amazing work. 😛
    ~The avid fan,

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