Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Creating names for the besieged cities

In the complex art that is writing, one of the most difficult things for me is naming.

The names of some of  my characters come naturally from I don't know where. Some I've never heard before and it turns out they are real names (like "Ogden"), some are just names I like or that fit a character:
- Lany
- Ogden
- Markus
- Regis
- Karyn
- Isabella
- Jason...

Some, I have to really work on for a while, like the names of the Comanche (they are actually all real names).

But the hardest thing for me is naming places and cities. I struggle because I can't just make up cool names: since Yaghan is supposed to have been colonized by Earth, I think the colonists would have used names they knew and loved, and modified them as time passed. So I have to really figure out cool variations of real names, as well as figure out which communities emigrated where, so that I can place the cities in the right places. Tricky.

I really struggled for months, and then I remembered a writer's advice: to get good at it, work on it.

So I just took the list of all the capitals of the world, and started working on them, modifying the order of the syllables, adding some, removing some... And I finally came up with a few names that I actually like. I want to present them to you because as I showed them to friends, it became apparent that some that I did not like very much turned out to be really good and conversely. So here is a little list.

- Ondinia (from "londinium", London).
- Pirea (for the Athenian port, the Pirée)
- Istan (Istanbul)
- Shekako ( old algonquin name for Chicago)
- New Eofor (New- York)
- Denhagen (denmark, copenhagen)
- Ersalim (old Jerusalem)
- Kuala Syurga (from Kuala Lumpur, confluent of mud, here, syurga == heaven).
- Madhjerit (Madrid)
- Tawwa (Ottawa)
- Ashtown (Washington)
- Dajijing (from Beijing, means "great new city")

I look forward to your feedback!