Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Thoughts

One final foray into the topic of naming (for now):  the naming of things, whether it be cities, landmarks, organizations, or places of business.  This is the part of naming that I find the most challenging, and each category has its own pitfalls.

For countries and cities in secondary worlds, there are obviously two types of names:  invented names that follow similar conventions to the names of their inhabitants, and descriptive names like Whitehollow or Kingstown.  (The former may, in fact, be the latter in some older language.)  For me, the challenge of the former is coming up with an appropriate sound that conveys "place" rather than "person," and this is always going to be subjective.  I know many a real-world place has sounded like a perfect character name to me!

For me, it is the descriptive names that are hardest, especially when it comes to naming organizations and businesses.  It is no coincidence that it took me a long time to come up with a possible (never mind definite) name for my own catering business, and I'm still not sold on "Harmonies Entwined."  (The name originated because the business plan I created for my coursework was centered around Virginia wine country and its wines; hence Harmonies Ent(wine)d.")  I have a very sensitive meter for the possibility of things sounding hokey, which tends to nix a lot of ideas and make brainstorming difficult - my censor works overtime.

This may have something to do with the fact that I don't summarize well - my first reaction when I try is, "But I've left out this and this and ..."  So a few words intended to label an entire group of people?  That seems inordinately difficult.  That said, I've come up with a few I'm proud of.  I've always liked the Borderwatch, the quasi-military, anti-magic group in Flow - the name stems from the fact that they ... well ... watch the border between fairy and humanity.  The magic-users in my abandoned novel Blood From Stone are known as lithomers, since their magic is very heavily stone-based.

Ultimately, I suppose, names for all but the most central setting elements aren't as crucial - they never appear so prominently as the names of characters.  But the right name can breathe life into a setting just as surely as it can breathe life into a fictional protagonist.

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