7 Tips to Creating Fictional Location Names

Fictional World Map (Created by Dan Meth)

Continuing the topic of naming locations, I’m going to do my best to come up with some useful and humorous tips.  I only had to create one new place in War of Nytefall: Rivalry, so these are going to have to go outside of the new release.  Apelios doesn’t really give me a lot to work with either.  Here we go:

  1. Make the location pronounceable.  It may be funny to write one with only vowels or consonants, but you could lose a few readers if they can’t figure out how to say things.  It can help to have a pronunciation guide or mark it during the first appearance, so this is more of a guideline.
  2. Consider the terrain before you come up with the name.  You can only get away with naming a desert city after water once or twice before the joke gets stale.  The founders would have to be aware of these things too.  A person who has lived in the clouds for eternity won’t have a good chance of knowing what a worm is, so they probably wouldn’t use it to name a town.
  3. Use real world examples for your fictional ones to help get the creativity flowing.  This can really help with natural territories.  Rocky Mountains, Great Barrier Reef, Grand Canyon, and other locations in our world are fairly simplistic.  You would be surprised how many places can be named by how they look.  It can easily be chalked up to an ancient traveler being awed and not that creative.
  4. If you name a place after a person then you need to come up with some history.  It doesn’t have to be much.  Could be how the person found the area or some great feat that they accomplished to earn the right.  To relate this to the reader, you can have a local explain it briefly or have the characters read a sign about it.  To avoid an info dump, you want to be brief or spread out the story.
  5. As with monsters and characters, you can always use another language to come up with names.  Consider something about them and then go to Google Translate.  It can be related to the terrain, a historic event, their biggest export, or whatever makes this place stand out enough to be included in the story.  Do keep in mind that people who actually speak the language will understand it, so try to keep it clean.  Unless the joke is that the town is really a swear word.
  6. Accept that people will mispronounce the fictional locations if they are made by letters being tossed together.  Seriously, I’ve gotten Windemere, Windmere, WindEmere, Winemere, Winmere, Windermere, Windermore, and a few others.  (For those who wonder, it’s Win-deh-mere.  This probably doesn’t help.)
  7. Don’t rely too much on common endings for locations such as -burg, -town, City, Village, etc.  Only way to get away with using the same ending is if you build it into your world creation.  In that case, you can NEVER stray from the pattern or the whole world will implode.  The deaths of millions of fictional characters will be on your head, you monster.
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Teaser Tuesday: The Immortal Gnat #vampires #fantasy

I considered leaving this a secret, but I think it’s more fun to show this.  It also drives home the fact that War of Nytefall and Legends of Windemere are in the same world.  Enjoy the brief and amusing crossover.  To be fair, it’s mostly Clyde and Mab with their usual antics.

Continue reading

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The Stumbling Art of Naming Places

Map of Ralian

(The map above was made years ago before some areas had names like the Crysvale Tundra, Pynofira Forest, and the Frost Barrens.  That’s the northeast region. Also, the Stone Asp Mountains.)

This week I’m going to talk about naming places, which kind of connects to War of Nytefall: Rivalry.  After all, I introduce a place called Apelios, which is the Vampire Queen’s hidden kingdom.  We’ll get into that specific one later, but Nyte and Nytefall are being saved for Friday.  This is going to be an overview of my methods, which is what Chelsea Ann Owens had asked about.  Check her blog out!

Before getting into the specifics, I will point out that I’ve used various methods over the years.  It really depends on what kind of place I’m looking for, my mood, my work location, access to technology, and what the story is about.  That’s a long list of factors, but that’s how it goes.  I’ll try to use as many examples as I can, but things do get a little muddled from time to time.  Many will stem from Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower since that was a traveling story.  Let’s get into it.

Word Combination

This is the easiest way to name locations, especially in fantasy.  You take two things that relate to what your location will be about and then either merge them into one, put them next to each other, or take pieces.  An example of the first one would be the Deadlands of Ralian, which are a lifeless area that will turn up in later books.  For the second method, there’s always a lot more because you see it in the real world too.  Frost Barrens, Hero’s Gate, Gods’ Voice, New York, North Carolina, etc.  You need to have an idea of what the place is going to be used for or it’s general history.  As far as the third example, I have a continent called Cerascent.  It’s a giant archipelago that I used to call the Crescent Serpent region.  I hated writing that so often and came up with Cerascent, which has stuck.

Foreign Languages and Scientific Names

I use this more for characters and creatures, but there have been one or two times when I do it for locations.  Foreign languages are easy because you just type words into Google Translator and see what comes up.  I actually can’t remember any examples of this one in my current stories, but I believe I used it for a few in Sin’s Tales.  Really need a title for that series.  Scientific names are a bit more common.  The clearest example is Pynofita Forest.  It used to be the Conifer Woods, but I didn’t feel like doing that anymore once I used the location in The Mercenary Prince.  Instead, I looked up the scientific names of pine trees and found ‘Pinophyta’ is the Division name for confiers.  Just changed the spelling around and there you go.

No True Name

This is more for regions than specific towns, which come more from the first and last categories here.  You can see in the map that I have Desert, Jungles, and Mountains written down.  I could never come up with a name for these.  I usually call the first one the Southern Desert or just the Desert because it’s the only one on the continent.  The mountains are the Northern Mountains or Dwarf Mountains, but they never came up enough in the stories for me to think about it.  It struck me as a place where only dwarves lived, so the name might be fairly simplistic.  The Jungles became another issue with a few locations in there.  I chalked it up to locals never agreeing on a name and there being so many that outsiders just call it the jungles.  Southern jungles pretty much gets used and I do worry that I can’t fix this down the road.  Feels like a cop out though, so I’m not proud of these spots.  Then again, I’m sure we have plenty of locations on Earth that aren’t officially named.

Change a Letter

This one is simple and I’ll get into it more with Nyte.  You take a common word and change the spelling.  It’s pronounced the same way, but you get a more fantasy-world look to it.

Wandering Eye and Imagination

This is the more common category for me.  I’ll sit back and let my imagination create the location.  A name might come up from that.  Sometimes it’s a common word like Gaia (largest city of Windemere) or Freedom and other times it’s a strange one like Vorgabog or Rodillen.  Getting back to War of Nytefall: Rivalry, it can also be me noticing a nearby word and another one pops up.  Apelios came about because I saw a book called ‘Apropos of Nothing’.  My brain just played around with the first word and came up with Apelios, which had this mystical feel to it.  Works really well for a hidden island kingdom of a legendary character.

What do you do to name fictional locations?

Canst’s Fields (Lost the name list)

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Where Did My Titles Come From? #fantasy #dystopia #vampires

So, I was asked to make a post about the origin of my book titles.  I have done this a little, but not in depth.  Then, I realized that I’m not that subtle when it comes to these things.  I figured I’d list all of them here with the cover and a quick explanation.  Click on a cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

This one appeared right out of the gate.  Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero is where Luke Callindor’s path to being a hero begins.  It’s also the one that I started my author career on, so there’s a real life association too.

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Nyx is a magical prodigy.  Nyx lives in Rainbow Tower.  I said I wasn’t very subtle here since this was her debut book.  Although, I will say that this was originally called ‘Running the Gauntlet’ because of all the obstacles.  Glad I changed it.

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

This one actually took me a little longer than I would like to admit.  At first, I was focused on Luke Callindor returning home.  Then, I switched to how Sari debuts and she was an ‘alluring’ character to others in the book.  Until that point, it was a blank page.

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

This was originally ‘Behind the Curtain’.  I switched it when I did the final outline and realized how important the Tri-Rune was.

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Another title change from ‘Touch of Destiny’ to focusing on the object that will kick off the Champion Prophecy.

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

This is a rarity where the original title stayed.  As you can tell, a curse called the Dark Wind causes trouble for our heroes.

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

Originally called the ‘Temple of Power’, I changed to the debut of Dariana.  The temple in question was Helgard, but that’s the last act.  I found it easier to focus when I named it after the new arrival.

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

This wasn’t one of the original stories and I came up with it later on when I realized that one character needed to get more development.  This was Yola Biggs the Chaos Goddess, but I named it after the gnome who would end up being the door to the trouble.  Mostly, I really liked saying ‘Nevra Coil’ and felt it was title worthy.

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

This was another addition after I looked over my outlines.  Delvin Cunningham shared a debut book with Timoran Wrath, but he came in near the end.  After that, I never gave him a moment to shine or a real origin story.  He did have a fancy title, which was perfect for his big adventure.

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

The original here was really lame with ‘Barbarian Honor’.  It’s about Timoran Wrath and his honor, but there wasn’t any punch to it.  Once I gave a solid name to his tribe, I thought it deserved on a cover.  A lot of the story connects to the history of the tribe and Timoran as well, so it fit.

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

I was paying more attention to the Nyx/Delvin relationship and named it ‘Love of a Warrior Mage’.  Of course, this was before I started using the term ‘caster’.  Either way, it didn’t work and I wanted it to be about the adventure.  The high use of mental manipulation and the introduction of the Feykin gave me this idea.

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

‘Lost Temple of Souls’ . . . Not that much of a change since I simply renamed the location ‘The Spirit Well’.  You can see I tend to make titles over locations, characters, or story specific events.  Isn’t that normal though?

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

I wanted to focus on the rescue of Luke Callindor here, so I went through ‘Where is Luke?’, ‘Fallen Hero’, and ‘Breaking of the Callindor’.  Far too meh in my opinion.  I decided to name it after the ritual that would be used once I changed the story around to include such a thing.

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

Another addition after I wrote a little into the series because I really liked Trinity.  The title came last after I added a few more former enemies to the mix.  The overall adventure really is the path of redemption of several characters.  Can you still call it that if not all of them go hero?

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

The grand finale!  I wanted to make it big and choose the epicenter of the whole thing.  So, I wrote ‘Blood of Heroes’ and then ‘Age of Heroes’.  Those really weren’t the crux of the entire series when I thought about it.  Baron Arthuru Kernaghan was the driving force of evil behind it all.  Figure the guy deserved a title.

Cover Art by Sean Harrington

Kira Grasdon was emotionally, physically, and mentally wounded in the main series.  It left her looking for purpose or death.  She needed a quest and I kept coming back to her emotional state.  It does sound a little like a romance story, but I like how that’s kind of a swerve.

Cover Art by Circecorp

This is a collection of short stories, so I wanted a title that kind of showed that.  It also has this casualness that fits the character.  There’s also a humorous slide to it as well when you consider these are all epic action adventures.

Cover art by Jon Hunsinger

We’re going to be getting briefer here.  Cassidy and Lloyd Tenay live in a chaotic land that they need to get across.  Pretty on the nose and it began the trend of these stories always being two words with ‘Bedlam’ as #2.  (Why is Lloyd giggling in my head?)

Cover by Jon Hunsinger

Instead of simply going across a region, Cassidy and Lloyd Tenay were going after an old enemy.  It was definitely a big chase full of destruction and chaos.

Cover Art by Alison Hunt

And here we come to the newest series.  Each book is a single word that is at the core of each story.  Questions of loyalty push the plot in the opener, so that is what I went with.

Cover Art by Alison Hunt

This is probably the most on the nose title of the series.  I think.  I named it after the introduction of Lost who throws the new world out of whack.  Yet, I noticed that many characters are lost in some fashion because they’re trying to figure out where they fit in the ongoing war and new Dawn Fang society.

Cover Art by Alison Hunt

War of Nytefall: Rivalry is the newest one and goes straight to the point.  There is a big feud at the core of the story.  I don’t remember what the original titles were for this series and I can’t find the right notebook.  Maybe that will be in the future.  Sorry that the origins of the titles aren’t more exciting, but clarity can be more useful.

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Punk Subgenres

Nicholas C. Rossis

One of my favorite writing resources, Mythic Scribes, recently published a great post exploring the world of -Punk subgenres: think Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Dieselpunk. The post, by Cathy, the Overprepared GM, PsychoJuliet, Jaren J. Petty, and Cryssalia Noire, was presented by Worldbuilding Magazine. The complete post is pretty detailed (I suggest you read it at your leisure) but here are the main genres mentioned:

Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksPerhaps the most famous of these -punks is the cyberpunk school of the eighties and nineties. Bruce Bethke coined the word cyberpunk in a story of the same name back in 1982. Cyber- stemmed from the words “cybernetics,” the science of replacing human functions with computerized ones, and -punk came from the musical genre and referred to a group of aggressive young people who eschewed convention.

A subgenre of sci-fi, cyberpunk takes place in near-future settings that tend to focus on a “combination…

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Goal Post Coming in at the Final Hour!

Yes, this is pretty late in the day, but I refuse to skip this since I have a big promo post going up tomorrow.  The reason for the late hour is because it’s the second night of Passover, which was at my place.  A lot of prep along with my son having martial arts and lots of questions pertaining to the coming week.  How about we just dive right into the deep end here?

SPRING BREAK!

I worked Monday through Wednesday and now it’s Spring Break for the next week.  I hope to get some writing done when I’m not handling various appointments.  Tomorrow is relatively free and clear, but that life event is still going on.  That always throws a monkey wrench into things.  The weather is going to be rainy, which limits what the munchkin and I can do.  We were hoping to visit the one zoo in the area he hasn’t seen and going to the Bronx Zoo for a day.  Things will be up in the air and I promised one rainy day will be Lego Star Wars II for an hour.  I’m sure this break is going to be rocketing by faster than I could imagine.

Passover

It’s Passover for the week too.  That means no pizza, pasta, burgers with buns, and so many other things.  I might add to my suffering by biking every other day, which I haven’t been able to do for a while.  I managed to get pizza and a meatball sub in the two days leading up to the holiday, so I’m kind of set.  At least I still have Chinese food.

Puzzles!

I’ve decided to use a little birthday money to buy some puzzles.  I always loved jigsaw puzzles, but haven’t indulged in a while.  To be honest, I’m not interested in doing them more than once, so I’m going to Mod Podge and frame them.  The Pokemon (300 pieces0 and Tiger Lagoon (2,000) ones are going in my son’s room.  The third is a Hyrule map (550 pieces) written in Hylian.  I can’t tell which Legend of Zelda game it’s from, but it looks cool.  Biggest snag is that the Tiger Lagoon puzzle is bigger than the poker table I set up in the room.  I haven’t figured out how to fix this problem just yet since I don’t want to take over the dining room or sun room tables.  Could work in the basement, but there’s no TV down there.

War of Nytefall: Eradication

I have 9 chapters to go here, which sounds shorter than it really is.  I’m really hoping to finish 3 chapters, but I might be able to wiggle in a 4th.  The hardest part here is that my nights are when I’m exhausted, so I focus more on scheduling blog posts.  Weekends are family time too, so it’s a tiptoe ahead.  Still, my goal is to finish the first draft before summer break.  That gives me 2 months to finish 6 chapters, which is doable.  I will be working on a special project over the summer that will be easier to work with when I have a 9-5 schedule.  I can get that one moving closer during lunch periods too.

Miscellaneous

First, I managed to spell that right on the first try.  Hurray!  There really isn’t much else that I can put here.  I’m playing the week by ear, especially with the life event.  Wait!  There was one more thing I meant to talk about.

The Twitter Experiment

So, I tried out two things on Twitter.  One was having a promo post staying up starting Sunday until Thursday.  It got 196 retweets that didn’t result in sales.  Oddly enough, 16 books sold on Friday and only 1 of them was Rivalry, so I know the tweet didn’t have an effect.  The other thing was pinning an interactive tweet on Friday.  I think I should have waited until the weekend, but Spring Break had started with a holiday coming on Saturday.  It was asking authors to share what inspired them to become an author and I got 7 answers.  There were 51 retweets though, but I don’t think that helps when interaction is the key.  This tells me that most people will share either without reading or not caring if there’s a question.  Similar to the ‘like’ button on Facebook.  I’m going to try this again and see what happens.  Guess I’m really starting to lose my interest in using Twitter since nothing there gains sales.

Goals!

  1. Enjoy Spring Break.
  2. Son time!
  3. Write more War of Nytefall: Eradication
  4. Continue watching ‘Iron Fist’.
  5. Life event stuff.
  6. Zoo trip if weather holds.
  7. Mod Podge and frame the finished puzzle.
  8. Try not to get sick of Matzah.
  9. Biking and sleeping in.  (Not at same time.)
  10. Possibly start on the Legend of Zelda puzzle.
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The Oddest Powers of War of Nytefall

Squirrel Girl

As I get closer to publishing War of Nytefall: Rivalry, I’ve been thinking about the powers of the various vampires.  The Vampire Queen herself has a few odd abilities, but I can’t go into that.  There are plenty of others I can work with.  Especially since I had so much trouble with a few of them.

Now, I’m first going to explain that I don’t mean anything really powerful, but fairly normal.  This would be Lost’s psychic abilities, Clyde’s Lord’s Rage, Mab’s shadow jumping (did it already), and a few others.  These are fairly common abilities that might only have a vampiric twist.  Instead, I’m going to list the ones that really stand out as bizarre and maybe not as useful as one would think.  Some are spoilers too, so I won’t always name the vampire.

  1. Bob’s Horse Creation–  This one goes right to the top of the list because it’s so specific and strange.  When the stories were on Earth, Bob was simply obsessed with cars, so I needed to come up with an equivalent.  In a medieval setting, the main mode of non-walking transportation is horse.  So, he wouldn’t stop talking about it and needed an associated power.  I was going to do a transformation, but I thought having him make a variety of undead steeds was both cooler and more his style.  Can he create more than horses?  Yes since he already used an antelope, but he used his own logic to explain that and still believes he can only do horses.
  2. Titus’s Chaos Blood–  I don’t know what I was thinking here, but he can coat weapons in his blood to mimic a Chaoswind weapon.  For those that haven’t read my books, these are evil weapons that can cause great pain to anyone with ‘good’ in their souls.  The more ‘good’, the more pain.  It doesn’t seem like it would work too well against vampires that are considered undead, but Dawn Fangs aren’t like that.  So, this power is geared more towards mortals and other Dawn Fangs.
  3. Luther Can Taste Emotions– Originally, he had surface scan telepathy, but I really couldn’t get that to work.  Instead, I noticed that I had him licking the air a bunch and turned that into his power.  It’s fairly straightforward.  He can taste the air and tell what a person is feeling.  The stronger the emotions, the stronger the taste.  It’s come in handy at times, but not as much as I had hoped.  Honestly, it’s hard to have him do it because he would need a reason to check for emotions.
  4. Fang Shooter– This is one of the three powers that just came to me when I was purposely thinking of weird abilities.  A vampire that can shoot his or her fang like a bullet was a really cool idea to me.  I gave the character limited uses before they have to regenerate more fangs.  This is probably the only one where I considered the physiological side the power.  They have two rows of extra fangs in their jaws like one would have baby teeth.
  5. Nadia’s Swarm Form– Doesn’t make a lot of sense for a noble to have something that sounds fairly disgusting.  Yet, it has been fun to use because there’s a sense of drama to her dispersing into a swarm of crimson moths.  I’m starting to have her do it to only part of her body to avoid attacks too.  Another function could be spying, which makes this power very versatile.  It’s also dangerous because crushing one of the swarm causes her damage when she recombines.  It can be healed, but imagine feeling the initial pain and then a new one upon returning.
  6. Sanity Drain– The second of the three odd powers.  I haven’t fully figured out how to include this one very often too.  To use this, the character has to either maintain physical contact or make multiple contacts in a short period of time.  This will drive the enemy insane for a while, which can turn out to be a rampage, anxiety, depression, or whatever they are more prone to suffer from.  The problem is that the enemies usually die or escape too soon.  It’s probably more of a torture technique.
  7. Poison Factory–  The last of the purposely odd powers, this one was actually the first and totally spontaneous.  It was originally an energy drain, which I had on the character before I actually wrote them.  This never sat well and made even less sense when they debuted.  I also realized that I forgot to give them a weapon and was struggling to think of something.  The idea of poison came to mind, which made this a very unique path.  None of my previous characters have worked with poisons as a main mode of attack.  This vampire can create the stuff from their body and even store it in bottles.  It’s made them a lot more dangerous and interesting than I expected.

These have just been overviews.  It’s also made me realize how there are a few powers that I forget to use.  Titus’s Voice of Inspiration only works when he’s leading a group and Lost’s enhanced senses aren’t big factors lately.  It’s difficult to find a chance for every power to get used in every book.  I guess with Lost, she’s gained better control over her senses, so they aren’t running wild.  Still, these odd ones tend to get more attention than the more mundane.  Some of the odder ones are coming this way in War of Nytefall: Rivalry.

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