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Naming your worlds

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Jan. 24, 2020

Naming towns, cities or worlds can be a challenge. A name speaks volumes when it comes to world building so the pressure to get it right is real. To help overcome the struggle of finding the perfect name, here are some tips you can use to really nail it.

Consider the time in which your world takes place
Even though your world is fictional, it is bound to have a parallel in the real one. Take Game of Thrones for instance. Even though there are dragons, wizards and ancient magic, it’s set in medieval England; going so far as to be based on an actual conflict during that time. When you look at the names of places, “King’s Landing”, “The Reach”, “Stormlanding” they are all based in this era of history. Take inspiration from your world’s corresponding “era” and soon you’ll find a perfect and well grounded name for your place.

Get cultured
Every world has a culture and, as a result, tends to name things after important people, events or things in their environment that holds significance for them. For example, imagine a society that is close to nature. They’re more likely to name their town after something they find in their environment. Names like “Lakeside”, “Amber Valley” or “Wildflower Landing” immediately highlight the culture that lives in that area.

How advanced is your society?
The technology and level of immigration and commerce your people have access to inevitably affects how they name things, places and people. Say you have an industrialised culture. They are more likely to name things after objects or inventions or famous innovators of the time. On the flip side, if your area is predominantly quaint farming villages that don’t see many travellers the naming of places will reflect that. Keep in mind how advanced your society is and who they might come into contact with and soon enough you’ll nail that name!

How do you find the perfect name for your world? Let us know in the comment section below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!

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bravo1102 at 4:45AM, Jan. 25, 2020

One proposed origin for the term yankee is a good example of this too. Some have suggested is that it's an Indian word for "smelly folk" and given to English in New England because of their poor hygiene compared to NE Native Americans.

bravo1102 at 4:41AM, Jan. 25, 2020

And then there's making up your own language for place names. It always surprised me how many group names merely mean "people" (many native American) or how many come from warfare. (Franks, Saxons, Zulu) Placenames can also come from the word for "home" or "where we live" or be named for folk who live there (Wessex is West Saxons, China is land of the C'hin) . Excellent examples are all around you. Look into the Placenames where you live and you'll see examples of all these things.

fallopiancrusader at 8:27PM, Jan. 24, 2020

Another thing that I try to keep in mind is coming up with names that are user friendly (i.e. easy to remember). Whenever I read a sci-fi/fantasy comic with characters or locations whose names are really long, convoluted, made-up gibberish sounds, I lose track of what's going on pretty quickly.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 3:43PM, Jan. 24, 2020

Coming up with name for things is my favourite when writing science fantasy, I tend to go quite nuts with it writing alien cultures to the point of wanting to replace common terms with brand new ones, but I try to tie them to words that suggests the same thing as the ones I'm replacing them with and make them ring in a way that will mesh with the alien culture in question. I also love combining words a lot^^

entropy0013 at 3:42PM, Jan. 24, 2020

In Sci-Fi is the place a functional only purpose like semi permanent mining site 23, where the crews and facilities leave before the extreme seasonal climate hits. Or like colony called Tillerman's Folly since the colony sprung up around a crashed water cargo ship, using the power core for colony and water purification, and the growth is chaotic and layered around the crash site.

Banes at 8:09AM, Jan. 24, 2020

Great advice! I've been trying to put together a sci fi thing and also a dark fantasy thing, and naming locations, monsters, gods, and people is challenging. Naming regular folks and towns is challenging enough, let alone fantastical ones.

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