Monday, 30 July 2012

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Writing Update

Well, it's been some time since I posted one of these!  Don't worry, I haven't given up.

Am now nearing the end of the first draft of "Markan Sword" third and final book of the Markan Empire Trilogy, with only a few chapters left to write.  This means the real work is about to begin, with a second draft, followed by editing.  As I tend to write through from start to finish, the second draft entails separating the four separate plotlines and rewriting each as if it were an individual book.  This is not as time consuming as writing the first draft (thankfully), so the finished article should, fingers crossed, be available before the end of the year.

Looking beyond "Markan Sword", preliminary planning has begun on the third Sallis ti Ath novella, tentatively entitled "Gifted Avenger", continuing the series set before the "Markan" books.  I've also already begun to sketch out plotlines for the next trilogy, picking up where "Markan Sword" leaves off.

Hopefully, I'll have more progress to report soon!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Ilvenworld Books - Naming Characters

Naming characters in fantasy novels can cause headaches - if not for the author, then certainly for the reader! One of the first novels I wrote (1990-91), had a large number of ilven. All their names began with Dj or P. There was Djader, Djaltern, Djanee and Djileil, Djaten, Djeer, Djenfer;  Pella, Pelline, Peloris, Pelore...

Had it been published - oh, the poor readers!

Many authors favour certain initial letters: A and S feature heavily in fantasy genre names, but it is possible that this is instinctive. Vowel-rich names generally sound less threatening and a "soft" initial consonant, such as S, can help establish a character. Unlike initial letters that are stops, such as D or T, that so often appear in baddies' names.

Even so, too many characters sharing the same initial letter can lead to confusion. Before somebody shouts at me for underestimating readers' intelligence, I must add that fantasy writers quite often use exotic names that are unfamiliar to everybody, except their creators.

Every writer, to one degree or another, has done it and I include myself in that. One can be forgiven for confusing Sauron with Saruman (Tolkein), or Reane with Reanna (Jordan). Note the similarity of the names: not just the initial letter, but all the letters.

Then again, some people have no problem with it whatsoever!

Unless there are fewer than twenty characters in a book, names with the first initial letter or sound are going to crop up. They certainly do in my books, with a lot more than twenty characters.  Then the hard part is keeping apart those characters with the same initial sound, or similar names.

All that said, authors can have great fun naming characters - perhaps we find it fun as we spend hours alone with only a word processor and dictionary for company.  But sometimes finding suitable names can be the hardest part when plotting out the next story.

Human names in my books are either familiar - Marcus for example - or are rearrangements of existing names - Obert is based on Robert. The meaning of the name will be related to the meaning of each name as we already know them. I have not tried to match personality traits to character names. Many authors do and that is entirely their prerogative. Some are very clever with character names and I applaud the fun some authors have had with this technique.

But parents cannot possibly know how an adult personality will turn out when choosing a child's name. They must choose and hope for the best. It also means that, from a writer's point of view, this lack of name matching personality is a more naturalistic approach.

In my books, infertile sylphs are an exception. These are usually named by their human owners rather than by their parents (for cultural and instinctive reasons, sylph parents rarely become too emotionally attached to infertile offspring). But even then, the sylph is probably still too young for her personality to have settled. And a human (and the author, ahem) will often choose a name simply because "the way it sounds" is pleasing.

Many sylphs are given human names, but most have at least some origin in the sylph language. Often two or more words form the root of a name and these will have mutated over time. Sylphs tend not to change words, but humans do, and if humans decide a Jen is really a Jenn, Jan or Jenna, then that is what the name becomes. The modern sylph name Jenn bears little resemblance to the original, but all the changes were made by humans, not sylphs. (Except if they mistranslate a word back to the sylph from the human language)

Many meanings given to sylph names often appear arbitrary. Jenn translates as "careful, hesitant", but the sylph words are "fatil" and "jekstin". To demonstrate how these two words ended up as "Jenn" would take a book in its own right!

But that is my method. Take one or two sylph words and play around with them, mutate letters and swop syllables about. If it sounds like cheating, well how do you think many words in modern languages came into being in the first place?  Truth truly is stranger than fiction.

Saturday, 7 July 2012