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  • elizabethdonnebook

Let’s name some characters together!

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

I have begun my preparation work for a new book. This is a really fun part of the writing process, as I research and set out the world that my characters will be moving around in, and decide what each person’s individual quirks will be. I get to use my imagination and explore various resources that help flesh out the backstories and motives of the main characters, without yet starting the steady daily work of writing pages. During this setting-up phase, naming my characters becomes a fundamental part of shaping their presence in my mind.

In my two Regency romances, despite having a limited choice within the genre, I enjoyed selecting names that matched the feel of the characters’ personalities. I had different constraints in my historical adventure series, which was set in 74AD. For these four books I needed to find names that were true to the cultures being portrayed. These were primarily Armenian, though some names echoed the Hebrew and Roman societies that co-existed with the dominantly Armenian peoples.

My latest project is light-hearted teen fantasy. There will be trolls and tree spirits and, yes, a dragon. But nothing is exactly as it seems. The mythological creatures are recognizable, and yet not quite as expected. Why, for example, is the golem wearing a pink tutu?

Which brings me to my elves. Tolkien has done much to elevate these beings in our estimation. Creatures that had once been lumped together with pixies and fairies as general “fairy folk,” have — through Tolkien’s extensive works — been turned into a noble race of immense power, beauty, and longevity.

I like Tolkien’s elves. And yet they are just a little too perfect. There is a cool detachment born of centuries of existence. My wild elves are like this to some degree, being so blended with their environment that they seem almost eternal, bonded to the earth and its vitality. However, my urban elves are more recognizably “human” in the way they think and act. They still have the pointy ears, the elegant features, the long hair. But centuries of urban settlement have led them down a similar path of social evolution as humans of today. Powerlust, greed, and deception are disappointingly commonplace.

Whatever their nature, my urban elves need names. Sadly, the truly Tolkienish names of Elrohir and Eowyn are too ethereal for the likes of such worldly elves as these. Also, whatever names they are given must be easy to pronounce. Since the book is for teenagers, I do not want my readers to trip over their tongues each time they come across an elven character in the story (which will be often).

Here’s the best part: I want your input. Do you have a suggestion? Something like Galadriel or Legolas, but a name entirely of your own creation? It should be easy to pronounce and yet not too predictable. I will need names for male and female elves.

Feel free to send your suggestions via this blog page, email, Twitter or Facebook. Once I have selected my favorites from your suggestions, I will list them in the comments section below. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! So excited to have you along on my journey!

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