My avatar's name is Ava Donja of Silk and Stone.
The other me writes general market romance. I play World of Warcraft. This is where I make two parts of my life merge in sensual fantasy romance novellas.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name? A lot.
I wrote Mind, Body, and Spirit as a stand alone. That gave me so much freedom. The world creating, details about culture – I could just throw things in to land where they may. Writing follow up stories in the same word? Now I have to think about it. I even have to draw a map (I admit it; I have already drawn a map).

When I started writing Control, I made a table to lay out how each magic user actually used magic. Mages manipulate molecules, primarily through academics. Warlocks have links to the soul, it’s almost parasitic. Druids tie in to ley lines and rely on the balance of nature. Yes, I have more details than this, but they’re not relative to this post. The point here is that planning is now required. Structure. I don’t respond well to limits.

One of my biggest obstacles now are character names. I can’t just flippantly choose something that sounds cool. I can no longer just throw in a random apostrophe or replace vowels with the letter ‘y’ simply because it looks neat. No thinly veiled references to Arthurian legend (which are fine when the story itself has something to do with said legend). I have to consider the rules for naming, masculine and feminine, in the elvin cultures. Actual thought is required. Damn it.

I have already (and thoughtlessly) named Evanesse and Malccino. That sets the precedent of names ending in ‘o’ being masculine. It’s not a far reach from our own western culture naming habits. My sun elf bad guy, Thassian, is from a different culture and will have slightly different norms. In Control, my main male is sun elf – his name has to follow similar structure. I had named him Torvyn, but it was just because it looked neat. I haven’t ruled it out, but it has to fit the rule book for the culture.

In Surrender, my elf rogue was named Cagasi. Not only was this hard on the eyes (an ‘a’ followed by ‘g’ followed by ‘a’), it ends in a long ‘i’ sound. Is that within the parameters for elvin male names? That problem is that I don’t know the answer to that question – and it’s something I should know. It’s something most fantasy writers have plotted long before they start their writing. I am an romance writer who threw on some magic sauce, so this is a learning experience.

I am looking forward to this becoming so second nature, the world so fully fleshed out, that I can screw with it. Once the world norms are set in stone, I can joke with my readers. I might throw out elvin equivalents to Apple or Ochocinco and my readers will realize they’re anomalies.


Daniel said...

I could be wrong, but I think you'll enjoy diving into the world building once you get going. It becomes a writing exercise in itself. You get to play set builder and historian while you paint the backdrop upon which your characters will act. I love that part!

At first, it will seem as if you are wasting your writing time. But later, when you have a question you need to answer or are looking for new ways to twist the plot, you will be so thankful for the background work you did.

You don't have to do it all up front, contrary to some opinions. You can build a world incrementally, but there is a danger that inconsistencies will creep in, or that you will accidentally create a logical paradox. The trick to that is to only expose as much of the world as is necessary at that moment in the story. Too much narrative summary is generally a bad idea anyway.

I think it is cool that you are a romance writer who is throwing on some "magic sauce." Welcome to the genre!

J.A. Garland said...

I love all the thought you've put into creating your worlds. I look forward to reading your books!

Will English said...

world building can be a bitch, but it can be fun too. Like Dan said, do enough so that you can tell the story. And you don't have to talk about every aspect of the world in one book. Good luck ^_^.