Fantasy Characters: The Weight of a Name

When you're coming up with a name for your fantasy characters, keep in mind what the reader is bringing with them. You can name your character Dracula. Just note that when readers see it, their first thought will be the vampire among vampires. You'll have to bridge the gap between what the name means in your world and what it means to your readers.

While reading some of the reviews for Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series, I noticed some people were complaining that a character named Saetan is this loving grandfather figure. The books are still popular despite that. Although, in the series, Saetan is still The High Lord of Hell.

I had this problem going into the second book of my Merging Worlds Trilogy. I named a character Belial because he started out as this badass demon. As I tweaked the story, Belial became this nice guy with no demon connection. Nothing like his namesake. However, the name Belial still fit this character for some reason. I didn't want to change it.

For those who don't know, Belial, in the real world, is either another name for Satan or is a high ranking demon. Either way, the name holds a lot of weight.

How do I keep the name without pissing off readers? Create a new mythology. In my world, belials are demons who disguise themselves as beautiful poor children. They suck the souls out of adults who take pity on them.

Now the question is, why would any parent name their child Belial? Because of this name, I've added more depth to Belial and his parents- who by the way, aren't total monsters.

Be aware that when readers see a certain name, they'll expect a certain type of character.