Friday, February 24, 2012
I’ve noticed how frequently readers, and even other authors, will ask a writer of fantasy, "How do you come up with those names?" Umm…sometimes it’s a puzzle to the fantasy author too, how the perfect name just drifts to the front of your mind like the lettering inside a Magic Eight Ball. (Does anyone besides me remember those fascinating toys?) Of course, many authors of fantasy works are creating a story within the existing framework of familiar myths and legends, so names and places can easily be researched. Alternatively, you can look to Ancient languages such as Sanskrit depending on the type of culture or creature you are creating. You can find words in the old Celtic or Indo-European that read aloud as either melodious or forbidding;strong and forceful;or sweet and alluring. In my own story I was dealing with an alternate Earth, and a quasi-medieval setting. I chose to use a strong flavouring of the Celtic—blending both the familiar and the exotic. One of my characters is riding up a steep switchback trail, the Ttamarini warriors are in close pursuit below him. Ok. I need a fierce forest dwelling creature to appear and force him off-trail, and careening down a steep shale cliff. Fierce creature…hmm…something between a grizzly and wild boar…Ah-ha! “bristlefang!” “…the largest hump-backed bristlefang I’ve ever seen, loping along, hump swaying.” The villains of my piece, the Memteth, are humanoid, but descended from a reptilian race. The few words spoken in their language I simply made up, keeping them sibilant, however, as I imagine a speaking reptile might sound. Of course, you then have to keep a “dictionary” of the Memteth words. Sometimes I think how much more straightforward it must be to simply write in modern day setting, or at least, a well known historical one. But then, you wouldn’t have the freedom and fun of creating a world unique. Happy writing everyone.