Saturday, September 26, 2009

Name Proliferation

Those of you who are writers - at least, fantasy writers - may have run into this problem ...

I'm about four hundred words into the new story mentioned in the previous post - and in that space, I've used six proper names. It developed very naturally:

1) My main character, who of course I wanted to name right out - it's third person narration, so that's the first name we see.
2) His "boss," the character he's talking to. I didn't want to keep saying "his superior" and the character is going to reappear, so let's get the name in.
3) The nationality of said boss. I'd already decided that since my MC is an exile from another nation that I wanted to do a lot of comparisons. This is the first. It would have required serious gymnastics to write the sentence in question with a generic non-name, rather than simply saying, "Ilkanese."
4) The name of the victim in the case that will be taking up the entire rest of the story. This seems like a relevant piece of info to me. By using her name, I also get to easily and simply indicate that she is THE High Priestess, not simply a high priestess.
5) His native land. Again, I'm going to be referring to it a lot, so it would be cumbersome to keep saying "his home country" every time. This is the only reference I can see that would be easy to change and move later on.
6) The name of the city. If you're writing an urban story, you can get away with naming the city and not the country; not so much the reverse.

I'm hoping this is a manageable amount of information, but I keep dithering between placing the information when it's first relevant, versus trying to undergo some gymnastics to intersperse it more gradually. On the other hand, this is a page and a half in a manuscript, so maybe that's relaxed enough. You then get a break until the next scene. Ahem.

I find this happens a lot, though. In my "word tumble," I had to name my MC, a king, five children, and a royal guard, all within a short span of time. Just personally, I would rather give something a concrete handle if it's going to mentioned more than once or twice. The act of naming something makes it feel "real" to me. So it's just a matter of making sure it's spaced out properly.

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