Names convey something about a person. It’s a tag that follows you throughout your life. You have a personal connection with your name, either you’re comfortable with it or not. You often get people saying,
‘Oh he looks like a Ben.’ ‘Oh he doesn’t like a Kevin.’
For fictional characters, a name is very important. The main character’s name is probably the most typed word in a manuscript outside of ‘the’ and ‘and.’ Getting it right, therefore, is critical, particularly in fantasy where names can get complicated. For me, writing about Angels and Demons presented a challenge. Because I’m using names often derived from millennia old stories, they don’t translate well to modern English on their own. The suffix –iel is not common place in naming today. In this blog post, I’ll be going over why I chose certain names of the four main characters introduced in Successor of Ramiel so far.
Zera, the main character introduced in Chapter 1, has always been called Zera. It’s a name that stuck when I was doing my research. His basis in mythology leant itself to being the main character. Zerachiel in mythology watched over mortals, much like Zera is a Watcher Blader in my story, protecting the Earth from demons. There are other reasons as well which will be explored in later uploads and subsequent scheduled volume releases.
From a design perspective, beginning with a Z sets him apart from the rest of the characters. However, Zera is short enough not to be dominating in a sentence. It stands out on a page, but too difficult to read. Zera being a shortening of Zerachiel meant that you could use one informally and the other, in more formal situations. This became a trend I implemented with other characters.
Seraph, also introduced Chapter 1, has always been called Seraph from the initial conception of this project. I got the name based on the ‘Seraphim’ and Seraphiel being in Jewish mythology. The Seraphiel in mythology is different from the Seraph I’ve created, serving very different roles. Seraph, itself, refers to a heavenly being. Since a lot of Angel names could be equally male or female, Seraph sounded a plausible name for a female Angel so I decided to use the name for the female Watcher Blader that rivals Zera’s strength.
Barachiel, introduced in Chapter 2, was not originally named after the angel of lightning. For the longest time, his name was Metatron, one of the Archangels in Judaism. Given his role and respect by an actual Archangel, I thought it was good fit. However, when people test read the initial chapters, I got this common piece of feedback,
‘I kept reading his name as Megatron.’
Amusement aside, I never drew the connection between the two at first. This is why beta-readers are very important! So, I needed to find a name. Barachiel is linked to lightning in mythology and so with his in-story Ramiel connection, I decided to go with Barachiel.
Hani, first seen in Chapter 2, was the last character to be developed out of the quartet. I wanted a younger Angel to add to the story and diversify the character list. Since her inception, her name was Ariel. Not a bad name by any means, but it raises a common issue amongst test readers,
‘There are too many names ending –iel.’
With Barachiel, Uriel, Ramiel and Arakiel all in close proximity in a paragraph, names were getting confusing for readers to distinguish. Ariel being a single letter different from Uriel did not help this, which was fitting considered their lore overlap in Jewish mysticism. So, I went about finding an Angel name that was both a plausible name for a female Angel, but also has a shortened name to reduce the amounts of –iel’s on a page. Haniel popped up and after some thinking, I came to the conclusion that Hani was a reasonable shortened name to have. So, Ariel became Hani.
So, there you have it. Zera, Seraph and Hani’s shortened names proved useful and received an improved response from test readers. I can never imagine Barachiel ever being called Bara or anyone daring to shorten Uriel’s name so they stayed the same. The –iel was reserved for more formal, higher ranking Angels as well as the Watcher Blades themselves.
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©Oliver Kerrigan 2017