Naming Conventions

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I've received a few comments about the naming conventions of characters in the first novel. So for anyone interested, this post is about how I designed them.

There are currently 32 cultures in the world Earthpillar that have distinct naming conventions. These are influenced by real world languages and proper names. For example, below are a few of the cultures featured in Lords of Deception and the Origins of Candlestone series, along with their primary influences.

  • Brintilian (Swedish and other Scandinavian)
  • Calbrian (English, Gaelic)
  • Donovard (French)
  • Gali (Mongolian, Yoruba)
  • Naren-Dra (Sumerian)
  • Rugen (German)

Some influences are minor or heavily mixed with others, while others have strong ties to the influencing language. For example, these and most other Donovard characters should sound strongly French:

  • Livonier = LIV-on-ee-yay
  • Maillard = mahl-YARD
  • Serdot = SER-doh (like a French silent 't')
  • Voufon = voo-FOHN

This doesn't necessarily mean Earthpillar cultures will share other cultural traits with speakers of those real world languages.

Beyond a general interest in linguistics, my motivation for designing a range of naming conventions that are consistent across novels is that I want the reader to be able to know or at least suspect--before a character even opens his or her mouth--where that character is from, just as another character might. I think this adds depth and realism, but also a useful tool given how crammed my books are with characters.

How do I keep it straight? I draw from a list of culture-specific rules and custom name menus while writing to help me keep track of these naming conventions, especially when the story spans multiple nations or continents.