What’s in a Name?

I have a confession. I hate naming things in my stories. I hate naming characters, I hate naming places and I hate naming anything else I invent. That’s unfortunate because my favorite genre to write is fantasy so I essentially have to name everything but I hate it. My main character in my Sureshot trilogy is “Durbar.” I hate the name now. It sounds dumb to me at this point. And how did I ever come up with a name I secretly hate? In the first ever roll playing game I played, another guy named the character for me. He said it was a word in old High German or something. It’s stuck now. Then I studied Russian and Serbian and Croatian besides the years of German I studied and my mind was filled with all sorts of sounds that might be forged into a name. Where did the name of the main city in The Sureshot, Harmon, come from? It was the brand name of a set of speakers at the work station I sat at while I began writing my stories. Yeah, not exciting is it?

And since those early names I’ve toyed with all sorts of ways to make names. At one point I built these extensive random roll charts that could help me make random names. A number of the names in The Sureshot are the result of those charts. It worked but it also created dramatic and entirely foreign names that even I had trouble pronouncing.

Besides that I’ve taken to looking up the rosters of baseball teams from a hundred years ago, there are some gems there, or World Cup soccer rosters from decades ago. And when I want the name of a town I often use Google maps to look around the world for an appropriate name to use in a story. But really? I still hate naming things.

But I suppose this is simply a problem with never being happy with the name choices I make. After all, I live in a city called “Fresno.” Allegedly it is the word for Ash tree in Spanish but I’ve never confirmed that. It doesn’t roll off the tongue some some majestic name though does it? so maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

Oh well, Durbar the Sureshot will live now forever in the pages of the stories I wrote. Still I wonder if he likes his own name. And since that is entirely up to me as his creator, and since I’m a bit dissatisfied with it, then I suppose he wishes he was named something less bland. Sorry, buddy.

Fortunate Fall with Biggs and Smalls

Up the side of the mountain they scaled even as it got increasingly steep. 

“Do you still have the trail?” Biggs called several paces behind his brother. 

“Of course,” Smalls snorted, so up they went. The ground was covered in loose stones and gravel with little vegetation to hold the mountainside steady. Biggs struggled to keep his footing but Smalls did not seem to have any trouble. The shorter brother had a low center of gravity and a strong back and therefore little problem keeping his feet under him. As Biggs fell further behind he attempted to once more catch up to his brother by jogging but with the incline and the loose ground, disaster struck. 

Instead of gaining on Smalls, the younger dwarf slipped and fell flat on his face. The fall created an avalanche with Biggs the lead boulder. He yelped and clung to his spear but tumbled down the mountain like a log sending dust into the air and gravel down the mountain. Smalls could do nothing but watch his brother slide half way down from their peak progress. At last Biggs crashed into an actual stump of a tree and came to rest there. Smalls called after his brother and began leaping down after him creating his own mini avalanche with each step.

Smalls bounded after his brother with nearly as much speed as Biggs tumbled on his own and finally reached his brother, hopping up on the stump to halt his descent. 

“Are you okay?” he inquired as he looked down at Biggs. The younger brother was looking for side to side and then down at himself as if expecting to see parts missing. 

When everything appeared to be intact he replied, “I guess so.” Then he tried to stand and each corner of his body screamed out in pain and he moaned as he sat up. His spear was laid next to him and nothing, including the weapon, felt broken. 

“At least if you did break something, you could just heal yourself huh?” Smalls encouraged. 

Biggs snorted. “Yeah that makes it all better I guess.” 

As Smalls waited for his brother to stop feeling sorry for himself and pick himself up he began to look about. He looked to his right and saw that there was a large rock covering what appeared to be an opening in the side of the mountain. He hopped off the stump and stepped closer and indeed there was a small cave mouth hidden behind the stone. 

“Hey! There is a cave here!” Smalls exclaimed. He sniffed the air coming from the cave. “Goblins for sure. This is where those coffee stealing bastards went.”

“How do you know? And I thought you were tracking them up the mountain?”

“I was but then you found the cave they ducked into. Great job. You rule Biggs! Now get your butt up and let’s keep following them.” 

“Brother,” Biggs started, “I just fell half way down this cursed  mountain. Shouldn’t we give up chasing these little beasts. We don’t even know if they went this way.”

“They have our coffee! And I for one won’t give up just because you nearly died in a rock slide! Now follow me.” Smalls pushed through the cave mouth and into the mountain, disappearing from Biggs’ view.