When I first started writing, I didn’t worry about my more fantastical names. I just made them up, put them in notebooks, and picked ones I wanted to use if I couldn’t come up with any decent ones off the top of my head. Occasionally, I’d come across some bit of naming advice, and, especially after I got online, I came across advice on how to create a Naming Language.

A Naming Language is basically a constructed language used primarily for naming people and, if your story has the need to, things and concepts. This is supposed to give names and words a kind of uniformity—so it looks like they all come from the same language for a given spot of worldbuilding. Writers who want to differentiate between their characters a little bit more, particularly if those characters come from different locales or nations, may employ something like this more than once for a particular world. Those who only want to have an easier time coming up with names or words they themselves have created, may use only one or two particular versions of a Naming Language.

For me, Naming Languages don’t appear as distinct as I like them to, and they’re too restrictive. Instead, I develop a sort of alphabet of the letters and combinations of them I wish a particular conlang (constructed language) to have, even if I’m using it only to name characters. This, for me offers much more flexibility and the freedom to develop interesting names which appear consistent throughout a particular locale or nation or group of people. Often, even if I don’t have an actual alphabet worked out, I have some ideas for it in mind and will fit names to my early concepts until I finally work out the full alphabet.

I get to do interesting things with my alphabets. For instance, when I developed the Édalain alphabet, I decided I’d use É/é in the names to give it its own “look.” Working out an alphabet for Édalain enabled me to decide on particular rules for the language and to develop backgrounds on how new languages are integrated into it, so when I have characters like Esqué and Fenelon, whose names do not follow the spelling conventions and alphabets I’ve developed or have in mind for particular countries and/or the Empire, I’m able to reason out why this is . . . and it gives me notes on their characterization. For instance, with Esqué, I realized he used the Édalain alphabet to spell his Gervési name as a sort of way to honor his roots while welcoming the “new” way of life introduced just prior to his birth when his country was invited to join the Empire.