Help! How do I Name my Characters in a Young Adult Fantasy Story?

May 6th, 2011 @ 23:14:38When I was creating the series of Legends of Green Isle, one of the biggest obstacles I came across was naming characters. I didn’t want them to sound silly. (I could see them frowning at times when I posed a name that was reminiscent of a comic book hero).

Fantasy characters like my dragons, elves, fairies and the like were dependent upon me to get something that was easy to say.  As a youngster I’ve read many fantasy books with long character names that seemed unpronounceable, and it would confuse and frustrate me to no end because I just ended up nicknaming the book’s character.  I’m sure that it took away from the character’s ‘soul’ and depth, not knowing the true pronunciation of its name, and the writer’s extension of that character. I didn’t want any of my readers to feel the same emotion I did.

Most of my Earthly characters have names which are old family names. My grandmother on my mom’s side passed away during the first beginnings of Legends of Green Isle and out of respect for her, the last names are from her heritage.  One character who shows up briefly has her given name (Martha Gay). Green Isle characters were a different story.  They were the fantasy characters, and thus needed other worldly names.

You may not believe this, but sometimes they just gave me their name. Take for instance, Lamfada, the leprechaun who forged the Sword of Balorn.  He actually had a different name before this one.  It didn’t read well with the story though, and he knew it.  One day, while proof reading, I could hear the Irish tilt of his scorn as the name Lamfada popped into my head; “don’t ye think that ya be namin’ me some fruity name with this one wee lass? Why don’t ya try Lamfada? That be my name and I’m stickin’ to it!”

Some names were derived from research I did on the Scottish and Irish folklore, and delving into the mythology of Atlantis. Elvish names were a little difficult.  I hunted around the web looking for some help with this one.  One website I found, included several tables of prefixes and suffixes of elf names.  I was able to create things which had some meaning for the elf characters and elf places within the book.  I also used some of the names for the Nuada Findi people and the Shadow people of Murias Donn (Druids). You can find these tables HERE.

All in all, I would suggest reading your story out loud to yourself.  Listen to your characters’ voices. (If you’re like me, they are always up there in the attic of your mind hanging around waiting for the next scene.) Does the name fit their personality? Does their name amplify or take away from who they are in the story? Is their name something the readers will be able to pronounce when reading?  Getting the right names are important.  They help create a believable story  around the characters themself.

Happy writing all!  Enjoy some time in your imagination today.

The Yielding

The Yielding

I have yielded
against my will.
The light which now guides me
is not my own.
Sweet death,
Sweet bird,
carry my news to the kingdom.
Their prince,
their King,
has succumbed to darkness.
Who shall lead them?
Who shall show compassion now?
Fly little bird, fly far.
Find thy knight.
Seek him who does not sleep.
Only then will the beast be bated,
his jaws set,
the teeth imprisoned.

Writing a Young Adult Fantasy Series? What you need to know.

Book Cover of “The Mirror Sliver”

Legends of Green Isle is my baby.  Six books with the possibility of three additional ones which tell the back story of Green Isle, has been in the process since 2003.  I’m amazed at how people can generate books within a few short months.  I guess that’s why I’m blogging about Legends today, because it’s taking me quite a while to complete these.  I thought I could do the same thing, write them out in a few years, but reality set in as I was creating the outlines, the characters, the world, the story itself.  It’s not that easy.

Preparing this series, I realized that weaving the story throughout six books requires an in-depth examination of the tale as I completed the outlines themselves.  I was going to need to make sure that what I was writing in book two concurs with book one and also book six.  For example, a key that is silver in book one doesn’t turn into a gold one by book five. (Haha).    

I also got back the first word from my editor after I sent her the first fifteen chapters of Book Two – “The Mirror Sliver.” Our May release had to be pushed off as she requested that I rewrite and add some chapters in the beginning to make the story flow from book one to book two.

Outlining has been a difficult part of the process for me.  I’m not an outliner normally, I shoot from the hip.  Yet, with this series, I found that NOT creating an outline will lead me down a path I don’t wish to go, and that would be, forgetting some important detail from a previous book that needs to be brought out in one of the next books.  For example, a haunted portrait in book one, mentioned briefly, will have a dramatic effect in book three.  Can’t forget those types of detail, so an outline must be created.  (It was a most daunting task.) My boyfriend Kevin has to listen to me sometimes talk about the story, and is in amazement that I have all of it up in my head.  (I had a most horrid thought a while ago that if I perished before the series was done who would complete it since all of it was in my head.  Another reason I created the outlines and notes on characters. Perhaps one of my children would pick up the pieces and finish it.)

Creating an adventure that would appeal to young adults was also another hurtle.  I stopped reading all young adult books because I didn’t want my story to be influenced by any other author’s creative stories. (i.e. Harry Potter)  Music seemed to inspire me though, so I would listen to the Lord of the Rings albums.

Map of Green Isle

So what can you expect as an author wishing to create a long series of Young Adult Fantasy books?  Lots of outlining, pre-planning, character creation (write them down and address their personalities), the world in which they live (helpful is you design a map and the important places for your own viewpoint), and a good editor who can see where the story is supposed to go and get it there. (Thanks Jessica Keaton!)

I can honestly say, never hurry a great idea, it must be simmered and stirred.

Sneak Peek at Book Two in Legends of Green Isle – “The Mirror Sliver” Chapter Eleven

“Let them come,” the husky voice whispered in the dark confines of the cavern.  “Send the brollachan after those who survived the first attack.  Splinter them further.”

“Yes, my lord, as you wish,” the witch hissed.

The form on the other side of the mirror dissipated, leaving the glass clear, reflecting only the bent and withered outline of an old hag.

Leaving the underground cave, the witch crept up the hidden staircase in the lower level of the castle.  With each step, her body changed, until she emerged from the panel door beside a large fireplace, no longer old but youthful.  Stepping into the grand hallway, her eyes quickly studied the shadows, assuring none saw the secret door before she closed it.

Gracefully, her body glided the length of the long hall.  She glanced briefly at her reflection in one of the towering mirrors which fitted the walls.

Smiling, she allowed herself a moment to gaze upon the pale beauty which stared back.
Black eyes, the lashes long, peered out as islands within a milk white face.  Her blond hair fell in ringlets down her back, cascading like a frozen waterfall.

She liked this body.  Being this way made her feel powerful.  Too bad Uthal would not let her keep it.  It was only useful to control the mass of thugs he assembled through the mirror portals from ApHar Mountains.

Sighing she turned from the reflection.  Hopefully the Princess of Murias Donn would arrive soon from her task at Half Moon Lake.  Innocence was needed to begin the spell.  The small five souls they acquired from Earth would start the process of freeing her master from the mirror, but the horn would complete it.  How long had he been there?  It was thousands of years, long
enough for him to know revenge, and what they must do.

Chuckling, she envisioned the defeat of the Elf Kingdom at Ellyllon.  Erulisse and Angus would be the first to pay for their treachery, and then the rest of Green Isle would feel the sting of the forgotten spell, as the essence of those who rebelled against their rule, would be taken from their bodies and fed to the growing power of the Black Warlock.  Then, it would be time to re-conquer Earth and take back what belonged to them, ending the rule of the humans.  Magic had taken hold again there, even if they could not see it.

A sound caught her ears, the dragging of a foot against the worn rock floor.  “Show
yourself bodach,” she demanded, knowing in an instance what shuffled in the dark corner.

A still form hesitated in the shadows behind the massive hall door.  An edge of a wool cloak hinted the figure assumed the likeness of a creature from Green Isle, its usual black form gone.

“Our plan must be readied. Master wants you to divide the group, separate them,” she instructed firmly.

“Yesssss, Missssstresssss. Payment?”

“How dare you ask me that? Finish the job, then you are paid, and change your speech, otherwise they will know what you are.”


The witch shook her head. Imbeciles, all of them, she fumed quietly.  Mercenaries who
had no alliance except to the highest bidder, and she did not like any of them, they were unreliable.  She watched the bodach melt back to the shadows disappearing from the hall.

“Make sure your do what master orders, or you will be dealt with,” she called after the creature.

“They must be broken further so he can lure the chosen one closer, and the power of the sword claimed.”