What’s in a name? In the world of Steampunk, plenty. Steampunk names can range from very stately and proper to wild and outlandish. A good name can put across your Steampunk persona in less than a sentence, and, let’s face it, they’re really fun! If you’re looking for a moniker to go with that monocle here are some basic tips to get you started, and make sure you don’t end up signing your letters, “Sincerely, ?”
Where do you hail from? Traditional Steampunk is usually set in the late 19th/early 20th century in either Victorian England or the American Wild West, but don’t feel like that’s the only option. There’s a whole big, wide world out there. Recently there has been a growing number of Steampunk tales taking place in Asia, and let’s not forget that popular Steampunk figure Nikola Tesla was Serbian. You have free reign as to where your character comes from, so think about what names are popular in that country or region. Feel free to play with spelling or pronunciation, it’ll make your name unique.
What you do can give you some great ideas about a character’s name. Are you one of a long line of clockmakers to the Queen? If so, last names like Blackwatch, or Cogsworth will put across that family tradition. Are you a mechanic or an engineer? Try a simple name like Rivets or Crank. Does your occupation come with a title? Doctor, Professor, Justice, and Captain are just a few ideas that can help add to your name.
Steampunk is a fantasy world but what makes it so interesting is that it has its roots in a lot of reality. Around the late 19th and early 20th century class structure was very distinct in most developed countries, and could potentially define someone for the rest of their life. Generally, the higher the class the more outlandish and longer the name. A good source of inspiration for a higher class character is popular Mythology. Always wanting to set lofty expectations for their family tree, high class families would choose names from popular gods and heroes like, Ajax, or Freida. Lower class families tended to keep it simple and favored nicknames, pet names, and shortened versions of popular names (Virginia to Ginny, Elizabeth to Bess, etc.)
We don’t always grow into the names our parents give us, but when you’re naming a fictional person you can guarantee that it’ll be a perfect match! A brooding Count could benefit from a slightly gothic name like Vincent Ravenscroft, and a saucy dance hall girl would probably introduce herself as Belle Scarlett. Creative adjectives are really useful when you’re trying to match your name to your personality, but there are no hard fast rules. You might want to play with going against type. For example, the well-read, and refined, Lord Bubba Dump invites you to his garden party, and you’re not sure you want to go because Sarah Jane Smiley will be there and she’s always such a downer. But how can you resist when you know Grand Chef Burnttoast will be in charge of the kitchen, and there will be a performance by world famous magician Spectacular Bob?
Not only should you definitely RSVP to that event, it shows you that when you’re dealing with Steampunk it doesn’t always have to be a serious affair.
Have you come up with the perfect name? Leave a comment and tell us what it is!