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 Morrigana – Feminine Aspect of Green Isle’s Deity


As I created the complex history of Be’thasileth, the parallel world in another dimension to Earth, I knew as I compiled the history of the characters that there should be a Deity, an individual who cares for those residing in this land, that looks down at the events happening in this world and knows what the outcome should be, but only intervenes should it further the agenda of what must come to past.

But who should this person be?

It was a daunting task.  As a history major, I have researched many aspects of current and ancient religious beliefs.  I find it very interesting that our world before the influence of the Roman empire, steered towards a feminine view of creation.  Looking at the ancient people who populated the areas of Ireland, Britain and Scotland, the major deities were all female.  Morrigan was Irish, Beira was Scottish, Arianrhod was Welsh.  It was only after the male dominated society of Rome conquered the land, did this view disappear from the cultures.

In Irish folklore, Morrigan is the goddess of death and guardian of the dead.  In early Celtic depictions of her, she is crafted in pottery form with large breasts and the head of either a Raven or Crow.  Her representation thus is divided as a goddess of fertility and the goddess of the dead.  She is also associated with the symbol three (3) as a triple energy force.  The duality as a sustainer of life and guardian of the dead helped me to use her as the protector of Green Isle, but also as the destructor.

In Green Isle’s story, The Morrigana is structured after the Irish goddess, but her personality is split into two, Good and Evil.  Morrigana is not only the concerned matronly figure who cares about Green Isle’s destiny, but also the deity who would not hesitate to destroy, if it carried her desired path for the Island further.  She is the persona of how we view our own creator, a giver and taker of life.

Most people in the story see her as a grey wolf, shape shifting into an old woman, but she can be anything to anyone.  No one knows if she is present among them unless she wants them to know.

In Book One – “The Forgotten Spell” she has secluded herself in the Elathe Bogs and comes out of the mist and shadows to the main characters to read their palms.  While only a parlor trick for their benefit, The Morrigana already knows the path they travel.  She warns two of them, that to stray from their destiny will carry consequences that would be devastating to them, Green Isle and Earth.

Book Two – “The Mirror Sliver” the reader will see more of The Morrigana, as she helps those who gather to battle the Black Warlock Uthal. (See Character’s Page).  Her desire to rid both worlds of this type of evil evident in her intervention for one of the characters.