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Posts Tagged ‘Mirkwood’

There’s more than meets the eye (and ear) in names. When naming their children (or pets) people often look through baby-naming books or on-line listings of names for their meanings. Some writers use those same naming guides, some pick the names for their characters and places based on sound, and some select names based on the images those names conjure up when read.

In the work of JRR Tolkien, we know that characters named Samwise, Merry, and Pippin will be likable. And when we hear Grima Wormtongue or Sauron the Great, Eye of the Dark Tower we expect evil. Who wouldn’t like to visit such pleasant sounding venues as Rivendell and The Shire? But when we hear the names Mirkwood and Mount Doom, we expect them to be dangerous places.

I sometimes use those baby-naming books for characters and places. The meanings and country (or people) where the name originated are important. I also use names from various myths and legends. Archaic words from a thesaurus or an old dictionary are another fabulous source for original sounding names. One of my favorite ways of gathering names is to jot down unusually named roads, towns, points of interest, etc. as I travel.

For my upcoming high fantasy Young Adult novel, Enchanted Skean – Book I of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir, in addition to my usual name sources, I combined bits and pieces of the names of family members and friends. For example, Stacy and Jason became Stason (one of the Hunters), John and Karen became the Joren Canyon, Wendy and Bob became the Wenbo River, and another Hunter was named Kelto (from Kelly and Tom). I even re-arranged the letters of some family members’ names to come up with places. Example: Timothy became the Mothyti River. And, one of my favorites, a type of goblin that runs in packs whose description might make my friend Denise (Dee) laugh – became the Grindee.

I’m not sure readers care where the names of characters and places come from. I suspect the source of naming is less important than creating believable, breathing, three-dimensional characters and places that can be almost seen, heard, smelled, and touched. But writers have their quirks – and meaningful naming is mine!

Today’s Tolkien trivia is based on names. 1- What was the creature Gollum’s original name? Yes, that’s an easy one. Here’s something a bit more challenging. 2- What was author JRR Tolkien’s full name? Tolkien buffs got that quickly, too. So, let’s try a more challenging question. 3- What are the names of Bilbo Baggins’ parents?

Answers to Tolkien trivia:

1- Smeagol.

2- John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. As a child, he went by his 1st middle name, Ronald.

3- If you look at the Baggins of Hobbiton family chart in Appendix C – Family Trees of The Lord of the Rings, you’ll see Bilbo’s parents were Bungo Baggins and Belladonna Took. [The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994, p. 1074].

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