What’s in a Name? A lot.
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.