How do start creating character names such as Cersei and Daenerys?

Creating character names is hard, there’s no easy to answer to this question. George RR Martin has a library of ‘what to name your baby’ books. He says he is always adding to this library with baby naming books from around the world and sometimes you can find cool sounding names.

I do know what’s been useless to me (although I thought it’d be really cool at first) was using the online fantasy name generators. I’ve tried those a few times and they all turn out to be something like Grizz Knuckle.

A lot of fantasy names are too much to me, they are just too difficult to pronounce. I wanted the flavour of medieval England. Strong names such as Robert and Ned. In some cases, I tweaked them a little, for example I made Edward into Eddard.

Using history to inspire names

Looking into Medieval history, no-one knew how to spell their name back then. There were lots of variations every time someone tried to spell their name. There are 6 known shakespeare signatures and no two of them are the same, so there are actually a lot of variants that have been lost over the years and some of that can be used.

When creating character names, George RR Martin likes them to have a backstory, of course. He has successive waves of people coming to Westeros and each group has a particular type of name. A certain type of name like Stark or Heart denotes first men heritage, because that’s what we would think of as simple English words. Martin wanted other characters names, like Targaryen and Valyrian to be more exotic and elaborate. So he used lots of y’s and a lot more a, e construction in the names.

Conventional wisdom when you’re a writer will tell you to never give two characters a name beginning with the same letter because the readers will get confused. I knew right at the beginning I was going to have more than 26 characters, so I was in trouble there.

Martin went back to his history books and noticed that throughout all of English history, names would repeat themselves. It was a line of all Henry and Edwards. Ultimately, it comes down to what sounds right and sometimes even George RR Martin struggles with this. Until he finds the right name for a character it’s like he doesn’t know who he/she is.