22 February 2015

Writing Workshop: Creating Character Names

Names are something that I’m fascinated by in literature. What makes a good name? How did famous writers come up with the names in their books? How can I make the names in my own books better? I enjoy talking about them and reading about them; I have whole lists of cool names in my idea notebook waiting for stories to match them with.

So I’m super excited to be teaching a writing workshop all about how to make up great character names! Here’s the info:

A character’s name is often the reader’s first introduction to that person—so getting character names right is important!  Join Nimrod International Journal for a mini-writing workshop entitled  “The Power of Names: Tips and Strategies for Creating Character Names in Fantasy and Science Fiction” on Saturday, March 14th at The University of Tulsa.

Some of the topics covered will include

  • Real world names vs invented names
  • Resources for finding diverse names from around the globe
  • Ways to keep names in your work era-appropriate—from the German Middle Ages to Victorian England to the American 1920s
  • How we know Voldemort is the villain—why names sound “good,” “evil,” and more
  • Ways to get the “feel” of your names right—and keep them consistent
  • Exercises to get name ideas flowing

“The Power of Names” will be held March 14th from 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. in the Meinig Recital Hall of The University of Tulsa’s Lorton Performance Center at 550 S. Gary Place in Tulsa. The workshop will be taught by Eilis O’Neal, Nimrod’s Editor-in-Chief and author of the young adult fantasy novel The False Princess. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required. To register, call or email Nimrod at (918) 631-3080 or nimrod@utulsa.edu with your name, address, phone number, and email.

“The Power of Names: Tips and Strategies for Creating Character Names in Fantasy and Science Fiction” is one of the events associated with The Big Read grant awarded to Northeastern State University by National Endowment for the Arts. The Big Read is a program designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. It provides competitive grants to support innovative reading programs in selected communities, all centered around a specific title, in this case Ursula K. Le Guin’s seminal fantasy novel A Wizard of Earthsea. Other events include a keynote address with fantasy author Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden series, film screenings, book club discussions, and more. For more information about the full roster of events, visit The Big Read site.

If you have questions about “The Power of Names,” contact Nimrod at (918) 631-3080 or nimrod@utulsa.edu.

I’m doubly excited because of the connection to A Wizard of Earthsea. Names are so important in that book, so it was neat to be asked to make up a workshop that connected to it.


If you’re in or near the Tulsa area, I hope that you’ll join me at the workshop!