Top 5 of 2019: 7 Tips to Creating Fictional Location Names (#5)

I’m an idiot.  Now I know why I didn’t see a post scheduled for today or any for the Fridays in January.  It’s because there are 5 of them and I was going to do a Top 5.  I couldn’t set it up until after New Years Eve to make sure the numbers were right and I got so busy doing stuff with my son that I totally forgot.  Well, here’s #5 with a late arrival.

First, I want to point out that I stuck entirely with posts made in 2019 that got the most views.  Anything that I posted in previous years that came out on top didn’t get in here because I’ve done them already.  Seriously, the immortal tips and dinosaurs in fantasy posts aren’t going away.

Coming in from April 24, 2019!

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.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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11 Responses to Top 5 of 2019: 7 Tips to Creating Fictional Location Names (#5)

  1. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Great world building tips from Charles 👍


  2. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this helpful post from Charles Yallowitz via his Legends of Windemere blog with 7 Tips to Creating Fictional Location Names (#5)


  3. Handy back then, still handy today. Great post.


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