The Citadel

The Archive of 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Lore

So Spake Martin

Naming Characters

Let me start with the big fan opener: I am one, read ASOIAF 5 times over, can't wait for the next book, etc., etc...

Glad to hear it.

Now to the meat of this email.

Where do you get the names of your characters?

I make them up. In many cases, they are variants of real names -- Eddard for Edward, for example. They have to have the right "sound," though. It is hard to explain... and hard to do as well.

I am a big proponent of the theory that "names have power". Not in the fantasy sense, where the holder of a true name can make you stand on your head or somesuch, but in the phonetic sense, for lack of a better description. I feel that names can evoke a feeling about a character, describe a character, better than a whole page devoted to just that.

I agree.

You should read some Jack Vance. He's marvelous with names. Tolkien was very good as well.

Almost every name you use in ASOIAF do just that.

Greatjon Umber Gregor Clegane Lannister Stark

I could go on and on.

So, Where do you get the names of your characters? How do you come up with them? Do you TRY to give characters names that will evoke feelings in the mind of the reader, or is that just a lucky coincidence?

You want the names to be evocative, yes.

Would you think about naming any of your characters Bale, in honor of my EZboard nick...? ;)

Nice try.

Thank you, and keep up the great work! We are all rooting for you!

I appreciate it.