You’re writing, speeding through scenes in a gush of inspiration, when your characters reach the town, mountain, forest of _______ and your (metaphorical) feet suddenly sink into the time-sucking swamp of naming.
A quick tip for when this happens: do what I did above and put a dash where the name of the person/place should be and keep writing. Resist the rabbit hole and return to your blank spaces after you’ve finished the scene.
The Basic Formula
Adjective/Noun + Geographic/Architectural Term = 90% of Place Names
If you don’t believe me, take a drive around your nearest suburb and take note of the neighborhood and street names; or if you want to stay inside, study the city names on a map.
Words to Mix & Match
This is a limited list, so please help flesh it out by commenting!
For more inspiration, see Crayola
Feel free to get specific with species
A last tip…
My usual is to use this naming convention (adjective/noun + geographic/architectural term), but in a different language.
I choose a language that I will use to derive all of my names for the world or region and translate whatever name I chose into that language.
Using Norse as my naming language, I want a place called Fox Pool. I can find an exact translation for Fox, foa, but I’m not finding pool, so I switch to Lake and find the word Vatn. I can keep these words separate, but I think it sounds better combined, so I end up with Foavatn.
Sometimes I switch the order of the words or Anglicize them by dropping a letter or two to make them seem a little more familiar to readers. In this case, I would drop the last n, leaving me with Foavat, a name that holds a good flavor but is somewhat pronounceable.
And other times, I cheat and just use the word for city or town in a different language and leave it at that.
How do you name places? Have any words or categories to add to the lists? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below!
-Abigail signing off-