Tricks & Tips For Creating Fantasy, Sci-Fi, & Other SF Names
- Spell your SF names so that Bob and Alice Average don't have to look for a pronunciation guide to get it right. For example, something like "Xajute" is just going to confuse people. Is it supposed to be pronounced "Zajoot?" Or "Khayoot?" Maybe perhaps "Ksajuta?" Oh, it's supposed to be pronounced "Cha-yoo-tee?" Then it should probably be spelled "Chayuti," which is much easier to figure out.
- Unless you're trying to be funny/silly or evoke a cheesy retro feel, avoid using doubled vowels to represent long vowel sounds. "Lilu" looks sophisticated, mysterious, and even ancient. "Leeloo" looks like something a five-year-old would name their Playskool Glo Worm.
- Unless you're trying to be funny/silly or evoke a cheesy retro feel, avoid throwing apostrophes and other punctuation marks into your names that have absolutely no bearing on the name's pronunciation. It's tolerable if an apostrophe or dash is used to indicate a glottal stop, but if it has absolutely no bearing on the pronunciation of the name at all, leave it out.
- It's generally best to stick with sounds that your target audience can pronounce. Bizzarely, although the average American can pronounce the "ts" in "Betsy" and the "ks" in "Beckson," they tend to fall all over themseles when words start with these sounds. Very few people can pronounce "Cthulhu" without inserting a vowel between the C and the TH. In Stargate SG-1, actors constantly tripped over the word "goa'uld," (in which all of the vowels are pronounced distinctly) generally simplifying it to "goold." Try combining names and words you already know your target audience can pronounce - eg, "Caroline" + "Daffodil" = "Carodil," and you should generally be safe from people tongue-mangling your names.
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