Unlike with people (and faerie)- whose names would be tied to the areas they were from- I had no plan for dragon names. Gerald's chief antagonist, Argyll, happened to be named for the region Gerald was from. (Argyll is the correct spelling, by the way, not Argyle. It took quite a few typos before I consistently got it correct!) The title Lord of the Western Isles simply made sense. I had no idea what his real name was until book three, when I needed to know. I wanted a mystical sounding name for Gerald's first encounter, and happened to be listening to Samba Pa Ti off Abraxas by Santana at the point the dragon's name was needed. Santana seemed like a great placeholder, but within a chapter I knew it was really his name. (How? One just knows. If one does not know, one simply decides.)
Perusing various country's names, I found "Nain", which I liked the sound of. When I realized that it was French for "dwarf", so much the better (Nain the dragon is anything but). Song Li is a combination of Asian names of people I work with. Wandap is my own munging of Wanda, a German name of unknown origin. (I simply decided these.)
The Lord of the Western Isles was more commonly known as Eldest, the title given the dragon who led the dozen eldest among the dragons, to whom most dragons looked for wisdom, help when needed, and what little governance dragons wanted. Younger revealed what passed for his name to me when he revealed it to Gerald as I wrote the dialogue where they met:
They ran down the stairs and through the castle, coming out the front gate just as the dragon landed fifty paces from the gate.
"I have come to carry you to the ruins of Lochmaldie. Are you ready to go?"
Hands on his hips, Gerald stared at the dragon, though this was hard to do as its white scales reflected the sun almost blindingly. "Who are you?"
"You may call me Younger." His voice, the deepest Gerald had heard, boomed off the castle walls.
Gerald slitted his eyes, trying to make out the dragon's expression. Kenna smiled and bowed to Younger.
Gerald bowed as well before continuing. "Younger is a strange name for a dragon."
"My brother gives no name, and neither do I. I am the second oldest dragon alive; my brother summoned your friend Cuthbert, inadvertently summoning you two as well." Flames of laughter licked the ground in front of the dragon. "And as I know who you two are, may we not fly?"
Early on I realized that the dragons' names were not necessarily tied to where they came from or where they lived. This was quite freeing, and meant that out of dozens of dragons across the series, I only had to change two or three names from those originally used.
In a later book, I needed names for twin sister dragons. I picked twins I know in real life, and assigned the names based on the timbre of the voices I was hearing and the real sisters' voices.
A key trait in writing is observing the world around you- the real one and whichever world you are writing about. As you can see, I used a variety of observed people, places, things, and behaviors in naming the dragons. There is no real governing rule to how they are named. It's the one part of the DLC universe where there are no real rules. While this is freeing, it requires its own kind of care to avoid too much cognitive dissonance in the reader.
Copyright 2019, Miles O'Neal, Round Rock, TX.
Illustration by Alli Ritchie (from chapter 13 of "Into Otherness").