The Best Way to Name

I go over the importance of nomenclature in Storycraft for comics, breaking down a bunch of aspects of it, but I wanted to touch on another specific technique.

One of my favorite ways to come up with names for thing in a story, is to find some relevancy or direct inspiration within the story.

Let me give a couple examples with story titles; my samurai novel is about a ‘retired’ samurai who goes on a vengeful warpath trying to find those responsible for murdering his family. I could have come up with a million names for this novel, including the super obvious, simply naming it Kazuo (the protagonist) or something similar.

Deep in the story, Kazuo is mistaken for a supernatural vengeful spirit–an “Onryo“.

I grabbed that element, and combined that with his previous profession, that which made up most of his character and voila, “Samurai Onryo”

With my cyberpunk novel, the special computer network in the story is called Eden. So it makes perfect sense to bring that critical, unique element into the title of the story.

This doesn’t just work for story titles, it can work with naming any element within a story.

Look for material in the story itself.

In essence, you’re letting the story name things, instead of you the writer.

Another simple example.

In the Ascended Kings universe, there is one city that works with a rare metal ore only found only within its borders. Since the ore has a vermilion color, the nickname of the city became, “The Red City.” While simplistic in nature, it illustrates the point that the story itself often has everything you need to find the perfect name.

Another tip, try to inject subtext into your names.

A big one in this department; look to inject irony whenever you can.

Irony in the context of a name, would be a clash of opposing meanings. For example, off the top of my head, if you were doing a dark fantasy where the world was overrun with demons, if it somehow made sense to call the demons “Priests.” A demon is about as polar opposite to a holy man as you could get.

Lastly, staying in line with subtext, I have a secret affinity for creating double entendre names. For a sci-fi video game series I wrote, the main character was named “Harsh”, since it was a dystopic sci-fi setting, the final name of the series became, “Harsh Times.” See what I did there? ▪

About the Author —
Nick Macari is a full-time freelance story consultant, developmental editor and writer, working primarily in the independent gaming and comic markets. His first published comic appeared on shelves via Diamond in the late 90’s. Today you can find his comic work on comixology, amazon and in select stores around the U.S.  Visit for social media contacts and news on his latest releases.