Shakespeare might have said that a rose by any other name smells just as sweet and in normal life this is a truism. However, in the realm of stories a rose is sweet because it is a rose. Words are what an author relies on to convey meaning. This is why naming of characters, places, and things is so important.
Authors agonize over names, searching for the right one, in the same way my college friend loved to take a dozen photos of the same thing in order to choose the perfect one to Photoshop and then share. As my friend would say and many authors too, it’s worth the effort.
Take my stories as an example of how naming is important. Zaria Fierce is here today in all her glory because of her name. I had a small set of parameters when I went to name her. It had to be catchy like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and other characters we know and love from literature.
It had to mean something. Zaria means princess, which is integral to the storyline. Fierce, because Zaria would be taken through a transformative character arc, where she starts out shy and withdrawn and ends up as a fabulous and fierce heroine.
Many characters in the Zaria Fierce Trilogy benefit from similar attention to detail. Names are evocative and denote a lot on their own and through social context.
Olaf might be to you a happy snowman from Frozen, but to me he is a mean-spirited troll with an agenda to reclaim a river that was once his.
I like to juxtapose preconceived notions of names. I also like to cater to those in the know and find names that feel like other names. These more aspirational names are sprinkled around and the prime example is Floki, a dwarf prince. You can guess from his name that he’s not the kindest of dwarves.
I even choose names that sound like something else we know, like Koll, the first dragon. He’s pitch-black with red scale patterns just like the live coal his name evokes.
Do you have a favorite name in the Zaria Fierce realm? Who do you think is named the best?
(Bonus, do you know what flower I shared with this article? Hint: It’s not a rose.)