When I comes to world building picking out names for the places, people, and things can be a challenge. Sometimes there isn’t a story behind a name for a location on the map or a name just pops into your head that will, ‘work for what I have planned’. Today I’m going to talk to you about how I came up with the names for my fantasy world and maybe my methods will help you build yours.
Let’s starts at the beginning with the name of the world – GAITAN.
When I first started writing about this world back in grade eight the world was called Arrogwin and was much less developed/ much smaller. Over time, and years of improving my writing skills, I decided my world needed a face-lift and along with that face-lift would be a name change.
Gaitan is a massive planet. You can’t tell as you – at the moment – only see one continent due to the lack of technological development and other barriers (Western Mountains). The series Prophecy Six takes place on this one continent and there isn’t much talk about even knowing if there are others out there. To those of this first continent they believe they are the only people in the world of Gaitan, but they would be wrong. More on that at a later date.
When I came to thinking of the name for Gaitan the process was pretty much, how would I describe the world? Giant Earth. What’s another name for earth? Gaia. What’s another word for giant? Titan. Combine the two words – gaia and titan – and Ta Da you got yourself Gaitan.
Once the name for the world was made I created the map for the continent. I wanted to see the visual before I went around naming things. I knew I wanted dessert lands to the south, rocky lands to the north, mountains in the west and east, and lots of water. After playing around with some ideas – also flipping North and South so North is down and South is up – I got a map I was relatively happy with:
That’s when I went around placing circles where I wanted my capitals or cities, squares where I wanted smaller settlements like trading posts or villages, and later on I started placing X’s where battles were fought.
For the most part I reused the names for the North, South, and East. Derlin, Syder, Arrowgrav, Arrowhilm, and Calin were names I came up with in grade eight… which I honestly don’t remember how I came up with them but I liked them enough to keep. Other names like King’s Port, Stone Creek, Yorn, and Bay’s Lake were all references to places I read about or grew up near. Stone Creek is reference to Stony Creek, Ontario. Bay’s Lake is a reference to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Yorn is reference to the Norn, which is the race I usually play in Guild Wars. King’s Port is reference to the Port of Montreal in Montreal, Quebec as it is one of the major shipping ports in Canada.
Places like La’reen, Mispick… and many others were created from random thoughts in my head or from things my characters would say. Sometimes I would be writing and my characters would throw out a random location and the name would stick. The majority of the locations on the map as like that, but over time I’ve made up backstories for all of them. Some of these backstories I’ve even shared on the Prophecy Six Official site – FOUND HERE.
So, to recap:
- Combine two words into one – Gaia + Titan = Gaitan
- Find real life influences: Stone Creek vs. Stony Creek, Ontario
- Let your characters guide world creation, (they live in the world after all).
- If all else fails, make it up.