Sunday, September 13, 2009

What's in a Name?

Enough to drive me bonkers.

Eons ago, I was involved in Pern fandom - basically, roleplaying / writing in that setting. Recently, I've experienced the desire to remove my characters from that context and re-cast them.

The problem? These characters are around - in some cases, over - a decade old. I have a very strong association with names fitting the character and the character fitting the name. So by now, most of these people are locked into their current name and it's very hard to make significant changes. Swapping a few letters will hurt my head enough.

Why do I need to change the names? For those unfamiliar, Pernese naming frequently deals with blending the names of the parents. Sometimes it's really obvious; sometimes it's just a letter jumble. To give some examples I won't have to worry about: Vecaria and Roran's son is Veoran; Nyzael and Larkani have a daughter, Nykani; and Cyderieh and Shalderin have a son named Sahaile.

In the latter two examples, I've fixed it by simply planning to change the names of the parents. They're not going to be appearing "on camera" anyway, or even if they do, I didn't really do much with them so they're not "locked in" like others. I've noticed that changing the parent names seems to be sufficient in most cases that I can leave the names of siblings and not have it look odd. My worst example is probably Daicara, Darave and Davenor ... and modern people give their children alliterative names, so hey.

But then there are those that don't budge and aren't easy to fudge. The worst examples:

Ravela, her sons Darave and Davenor, and the former's daughter Ranessa: All four of these characters saw play. The most attention went to Darave and his daughter; I think - emphasis on think - if I change Ravela, then the others come neatly apart and it's not too bad. Savela? Sarvela? The V kind of gives it the punch. Would it make sense to make Darave into Dirave, or does that change not help? Darave and Davenor are excusable because the backstory is that Ravela left her husband, but claims the latter is still his son.
Millysti, her son Kailyst, and his cousin Telystian: Complicated by the fact that Telystian's little sister is named after her aunt, so even though one Millysti was never on-screen, the other was. Kailyst is ... he's utterly non-negotiable. And I love Telystian's name. I don't even have ideas what I could possibly do with this one.
Brothers Andileran and Ryleran and cousin Toscileran: Enough said, I think. The -leran suffix, I could probably come up with some reason for using it, and I thought of making a vocational tag ... since they're all guards. Not sure if that's cheating, or if it still looks transparently like name-blending. Also compounded by the fact that I don't want to use this solution for the prior group, so it would be two separate fixes.
Toscileran's son Cellani: Cellani was active longer than his father, actually. And I love the name! It's cute. If the -leran is an occupational suffix, does that uncouple this name enough? Or is it detached already and I'm just too used to seeing it as a direct nomenclature descendant?

I just continue to contort myself over how much change is enough, at what point does it start looking unblended versus at what point does it stop being the same "feel" for the name? How far does it need to go?

This post is just here because I'm venting right now, not specifically hunting for solutions, but it may go onto writer forum(s) in the future.

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