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If your stories are about mythological or fantasy beings, then you’ve run into the problem of naming the species and their individual given names.
You have two choices. Use current names or make up names. Either way, any character must be an eye-catcher to the reader.
Take J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Her names are absolutely eye-catching to me. Harry Potter – so plain of a name yet it resonates as you read it.
Even Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. Isabella (Bella) Swan was perfect for the main character. I related to her right away.
JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Way too many wonderful names to mention, but I love the hobbits: Frodo, Bilbo, Samewise, etc.
When I wrote ‘The Hero of Aberforth’ I was faced with a challenge. The book doesn’t contain one type of dragon. It has 10 different species, all needing to be identified. AND each character needed a specific birth name. I wanted something original for each.
I turned to etymology and my favorite etymological site: http://www.etymonline.com/ and Proto-Indo European (I found a lot in Wikimedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_vocabulary plus other languages. I changed them to fit my needs. As I developed the types of dragons, I wrote the descriptions also. Once I finished with this, then I gave them personal titles.
So, let’s look at a couple of dragons from ‘The Lone Hero’
Guerrverre: (from the etymology site) guerre is both Old French and French and means war/mountain.
Verre is from wer, a proto-indo-european word ‘to cover, to protect’ and I developed verre. In old french it means ‘true’. Sadly, in modern french it means glass.
The story takes place long before the Earth is formed so the modern meaning doesn’t apply.
Here’s the description I wrote:
- Black dragons Guerrverre gwer-mountain /verr -guardian/guerre-war
Protectors of all species
Can stand as tall as 10 feet high on all fours.
Two frontal, long spikes, one on each side of top of head that move back when angry or upset
Extremely brave; fearless fighters
Elongated and slanted yellow eyes that go black when challenged.
Short sharp teeth along top and bottom of mouth. Four sets of fangs, two sets up, two sets from bottom.
Long tail with sharp point on end
Strong, dense bodies – largest dragon of all and most powerful.
Short muscular arms and legs with 4 digits on each and a claw at the end
Very fast runners and flyers, although they don’t like to walk or run on the ground much
Wings are wide and dome-shaped when open. These dragons can glide for long periods of time
Scales along the bottom from their tails to their chins, making them virtually indestructible.
Long neck with foot long thorns along back of neck and top of tail.
Medium but flat snout
Can blow a poisonous thin mist from their nostrils and a thin healing mist from their mouths.
Deep booming voice and loud roar
They are changelings
They are mighty warriors, but kind-hearted towards all species. They find humans to be intriguing, entertaining, and childlike.
Playful and humorous
They are clever about hiding their eggs
A Guerrverre is a main character so I needed a name that worked for his unique personality and I decided upon Zavat. Zavat is the Grandus Lædere (grand leader) of all dragons.
Here’s a passage when my hero Einarr meets Zavat:
A black dragon of enormous size came into view. Einarr strode into a clearing and prepared to defend himself. Once it landed, without a moment’s hesitation, Einarr attacked and the dragon calmly flicked him aside. Einarr got up and hurtled towards it. It seized Einarr’s sword and crumpled it in its clawed paw but didn’t retaliate.
Einarr drew his knife. “I don’t ever surrender. I’ve finished off many of your kind with just this weapon.”
“With that piddly rock? Try if you must.” The dragon acted disinterested and stretched out a forepaw comfortably along the ground. It watched Einarr’s every step and Einarr noticed its slanted citrine eyes.
“You!” he whispered. He scowled at his father’s master. “I’ve wanted to find you.” Einarr half-circled his prey back and forth, tossing the knife from hand to hand, studying his enemy. He’d waited a long time for his revenge and he planned on savoring it.
“How much longer?” It yawned and nestled in the dirt.
“Arrrggghhhh,” yelled Einarr. He faked for its left eye then stabbed at the right. The dragon swatted Einarr as though he were nothing more than a pesky insect. Einarr skidded and landed on his back. His head smacked the earth hard.
“I’ve noticed that you use that technique too many times. Perhaps I should inform you that I teach combat tactics and that I’m older than most with a wealth of experience in war. We could play this game all day but we haven’t much time and frankly, you’re boring me.”
“I will avenge my family and Harulis,” yelled Einarr, frustrated that the dragon refused to fight.
“Not with that toy and we’ll have no more deaths today.”
Einarr scoffed. “I don’t obey you. I’ll take your life and today,” He lunged again.
In one fluid act, the dragon snatched Einarr’s knife and held Einarr down with his other paw. “Heh heh heh, okay, I’ll admit I enjoyed that ploy. I’m quick, don’t you think?”
“Let me up!” demanded Einarr.
“Promise you’ll behave.”
“I swear I’ll slay you, demon.”
“Name calling? Is that to wound me? Okay, I’ll play along. Ow, that pierced straight through me. I feel my life slipping away.” It grasped dramatically at its heart. “Please, no more, I beg you.”
“You’re obnoxious. Why tease me? Do you wish for a quick death?”
The dragon settled deeper and purposely squeezed Einarr’s sides.
“Oomph. Stop that. Oomph. I said stop that. Alright, I’ll hear your lies then I’ll enjoy executing you.”
The dragon released him, flicking him forward, and slid his knife to him. “You won’t be using that, er, weapon, will you? I have tough scales and not enough patience to wait for such a long tedious ending while you whittle away repeatedly at me.”
Einarr sat across from it. “I can’t figure out why I’d allow this. I don’t talk to idiots like you, but I’ll let you speak your last words.”
The dragon contemplated Einarr, thrumming his talons upon the Earth.
“Don’t stare at me,” demanded Einarr.
“Why not?” asked the dragon, surprised. He crossed his front arms and tapped the earth with a thick front digit.
“You’ll hypnotize me.”
It roared with laughter. “A child’s fable. Do you feel different?”
“How would I know if I do?”
“You are wise as I suspected but lack knowledge of us. I am Lord Zavat, a Guerrverre. I’m one of the most experienced of my kind, referred to as a Great One, which means I deserve respect from all, including you. I also have the honor of ruling—Grandus Lædere.” He bowed his head slightly. “I suppose you’ve heard of me?” he asked, acting blasé.
“Humph. Never heard of you.”
“Never? I don’t believe you. I bet you have.” Zavat grinned widely while lightly scratching the earth.
“You’re spouting the lies.”
“I am a trickster and a jokester, but never a liar.” Zavat pretended to be affronted.
When I developed the dragon world of Aberforth I gave unique attributes to each type of dragon, but the dragon that readers seem to favor is a little different from the others.
Klimbanan-Swimman Big title for such a small being. These dragons can climb quickly and are also great swimmers so back to the etymology sent I went. From Old High German I selected Klimban. I added the ‘an’ to define it and make the word ‘climber’. From my favorite ancient language, Old English I selected Swimman. This is a long word but these titles helped me as I wrote the story and kept the personalities separate.
Here is my description of Klimbanan-Swimman:
(They are also known as cave dwellers)
They are deep brown in color with light brown stripes and light green slanted eyes
They speak with clicks added to their words.
They have thin elongated bodies that reach about 3ft in length. Their tails are almost that long with tiny spikes along the top.
They have extremely short muscular arms and legs, each having 5 digits spread out, connected by small webs. Large claws on each that are hook shaped.
They can slither across land on their bellies, swim across water or walk upright.
They can climb cliffs or trees swiftly by using their hooked claws for leverage
Highly intelligent and not known to fight
They have elongated faces, their snouts have double rows of small sharp teeth on the top and bottom of their mouths. Their mouths can shoot short bursts of flames. On the top of their snout is a long hooked horn which they can use to dig with.
They love to walk upright and sit balancing on their tails and short legs.
They live in caves and prefer to be high up cliffs where they’re safest.
They are the keepers of the dragons’ journals and ledgers and also treasures.
They are inquisitive and friendly, but like their alone time.
The most popular dragon? Shuma, a Klimbanan-Swimman
Here are a couple of short passages about this dragon:
Einarr smirked at Zavat. “You call this is a dragon?”
“I can give you a week, maybe two, that’s all. Can you do it?” asked Zavat.
“If he is smart as is rumored about him, I should be able to instruct him in some things.”
Einarr poked the lizard-like creature in the stomach. Shuma swatted Einarr’s hand away. “No, no, hut-fellow. No jabbing.”
Zavat added,“I wouldn’t jab him again. He’s feisty and agile, and his teeth are extremely sharp. You’ll lose a finger. He’s a dragon with a brilliant mind, the smartest of all of us, a Klimbanen-Swimman. He can climb anything or swim rapidly. Don’t disrespect him, I’ll know, and don’t harm him. He’s the Keeper of our Records.” At that, Zavat left Einarr with the small critter.
Einarr spoke. “You’re impressive. I’ve never met one like you. Shuma, you understand that I’m a man? I’m not a yongling or tiny or simple minded and especially not a nipper, that’s like a baby, and my people aren’t primitive.”
Shuma scurried to Einarr and patted his head lightly. “Fine simple boy-creature. No offense, whelp,” he said in a soothing voice. “Shuma knows you aren’t fully grown. Even our draecubs are years beyond you. Good oaf, be gentle, human-creature. Patience, yongling.” Then he sat down and opened a book. “Let’s begin.”
“Why, your education. I’ll teach you many things, although I don’t expect you’ll comprehend much, being a barbarian and all, but I’ll try.” And Shuma read ‘The Narrative of Aberforth’.
(a draecub is another word I invented for infant dragons not yet or just barely out of their eggs)
“Maybe if you slept more, you wouldn’t have such tempers.” said Einarr.
“Oh my.” Shuma curled forward with several peculiar short shrill squeals that could only be his form of mirth. It surprised Einarr and he laughed too.
“Good job, brave lads, but you must behave. I wouldn’t want to report to Lord Zavat that his trainee has gotten in trouble already playing with Eendemerghs.” Shuma was carrying a basket and a change of clothing.
“Shuma, what are you doing here,” demanded Szah.
Shuma bowed. “Lord Szah, Lord Zavat orders me to bring nourishment and clean clothes to his hut-dweller progeny. Lord Zavat reminds Lord Szah that humans must consume food at least twice daily. Lord Zavat says he can’t avoid the rumblings in his yongling’s stomach and it is distracting him from his duties.”
By the way, Eendemerghs are another type. They’re nasty dragons who hide in clouds or fog and attack anything.
- Mist Dragons Eendemergh een-eyes de-of mergh-mist (it’s easy to see that I developed this name from etymology and French.
Einarr waited on the bank for fish but none swam by him. A chilled wind blasted in from the north and he shivered. Instinctively he felt agitated. He watched confused while frosty billows cascaded in front of him.
“Einarr,” screamed his mother. “Your father warned me of dragons who travel in mists. Hide!”
Einarr guessed its distance and heard a murmuring as the fog advanced. He raced to a crag and ducked, preparing a spear.
“Where’s my tasty treat? I smell a biped yongling, I think. You can’t escape me.” The voice whispered and resonated from within its throat.
Einarr grinned. He’d figured out its position when it spoke and the increased frigidity around him the closer it came. Even the rocks turned cold indicating it glided even nearer. He readied himself.
- The dragon paused, realizing it had neared its prey.
- Use creativity and these sites when picking names for your characters and fantasy species. It makes them so much more interesting. Don’t you agree?
- LHR, my dear friends.
The Lone Hero is available from any of my websites, amazon.com, barnes&noble, smashwords, kobo, iPad, and google books/google play for $2.99 for the e-book.