July 19th, 2010


Metrics and memeage

New words: 1087

First new line: Hyfaidd said, ‘Once thing more.’
An unexpected fire, and an edge of a quarrel. Things are hotting in up in both senses.

Writing meme day 3: How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you're writing about fictional places)?

Ah, now this is a good one, because names matter hugely to me, and they have to match. One thing I really hate in fantasy is when characters' names seem to be completely random, with no cultural linking or similarities. I find that almost disrespectful, as though difference is somehow ignored or seen as irrelevant. So my own names have to have the right feel for whatever culture I'm writing in/about. Merafien names are usually Latinate in feel, Lunedithin names need to feel p-Celtic (Welsh/Breton style) while names from Tarnaroq have an Anglo-Saxon texture. In the early 90s I spent a year working on a hand-list of Welsh royal documents and as a result I spent a lot to time reading mediaeval charter, close, fine and court rolls, and I got into the habit of noting down names that struck me as interesting for some reason or another, be it sound, shape or spelling. I take a certain number of the names I use from those sources, sometimes re-spelling or adapting them. So Thiercelin is from Tiercelin and Miraude from Meraude. Iareth is a 12th century Welsh spelling of the Biblical name Yaphet; Kenan is way Welsh Cynan tended to be spelled in Latin texts; Quenfrida is my reworking of Old English Cwenfrith. Oh, and Thiercelin's surname du Laurier is a Dumas reference (it's the name Planchet uses when he's involved in the Paris Fronde in Twenty Years After) Some names are all my own work -- Valdarrien, for instance, but they have to fit the overall feel or I end up changing them. Same with the names in Grass King, where I have two old French names (Jehan and Aude), a group that are meant to feel tonal (but not specifically Chinese -- I wanted them to feel like they come from a wholly different type of language -- Sujhien, Lienye) and another that feel like Latin (as opposed to the Latinate Merafien type) -- Marcellan, Yelena, because they come from an older form of the modern Merafien language.
With The Drowning Kings, the aim is to keep the names comprehensible, since many people find Welsh names -- especially Old Welsh names -- difficult. So when possible, I'm using the shorter ones -- Owain, Idwal. Some of the historical characters have challenging names -- Hyfaidd -- but those I can't change.

It's too hot, and I have eaten too many crisps. Sigh...