The story of names

To lead off with, I completed the full first draft of my fantasy novella, currently known as TDM, sometime late Sunday. I am super pleased with having it finished, and I’ve jumped straight into writing the draft of its sequel/series-mate because I am so enthusiastic about this collective piece!

[Side note: I haven’t been able to update Facebook at all since Saturday, so that explains my sudden silence/lack of updates!]

If you’ve seen my projects list (found on the Ashlee’s Writing page), you might notice that some of the abbreviated names have changed. This is a large part of why I don’t list the projects by their full titles; when they are a work in progress or even just planning stages, the name of the story can change in a snap. Book two, now AEN, didn’t have a firm title until yesterday, and the name itself will help shape the direction the story goes (it fills in a small but significant detail).

In traditional publishing, it’s pretty commonly known that the author’s chosen title can change. That was always one of the things that concerned me about eventually shopping my work around. They say don’t get too attached to the name, but the name of a thing is a very important aspect of its whole. And frankly, I know of more than enough books which have been printed with pretty terrible names (and worse covers), so I can’t imagine the industry as a whole is that much better at naming than I am.

Character and place names are also significant, and can take a lot of work to get right. Sometimes when I’m writing these fantasy stories, I get really nervous that my naming treads are getting… you know, too “fantasy”. What kind of notion is that! I know that I’m generally very reasonable about creating names, too, but when my main character ends up with something four syllables long, I worry that others might see it and think, “wow, that’s really clichéd”. But it suits her. And after 40,000 words with her, it feels completely natural.

But the concern is there, and I admit that. When you’re creating locations, mythical races, and people who wield magic, some names fit, and some don’t. I’m the kind of person that puts heaps of thought into the naming of things. The spelling, the way it’s pronounced, how the name looks in text, it’s all taken into consideration. This goes for all names. Book titles, people, whatever needs its own proper noun.

I still haven’t settled on a name for the whole series, either!

~A

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10 thoughts on “The story of names

  1. Congratulations on finishing the novella! It seems we both passed 40,000 words in the same weekend. 🙂
    I know what you mean with naming things. The name much more important than many people realize. Granted, with my series, I know all but the last title and have the most essential names covered. The titles follow a set “system”, so to speak.

    – Tales of The Forbidden
    – Mercy of The Forbidden
    – Prophecy of The Forbidden
    – TBA

    I’ve had this planned for years, which is why it’s dubbed “The Forbidden Series”.
    Keep up the great work; I’m sure it will go well for you! And congratulations again!

    1. Thank you, and congratulations back! 😀

      Naming themes are very good, and even better when you can take an element from it to use as the series title, too!

      ~A

  2. Well, it appears I beat you to the punch on this one 😉
    http://elhombredejota.livejournal.com/19521.html

    With very few exceptions, every single name or title I use is significant in some way. That’s one of the main reasons I want to at least start off as a wholly-indie director, to establish myself as somebody who knows what he’s doing with regards to his titles, so that if I do end up working with a publisher or a big movie studio or professional theatre company later, I have a reputation to back me up & help protect my titling.

    1. I’m sure there are instances where the big company doesn’t try and change everything just for the sake of “they know best”, but it’s pretty rare that you hear about it. My understanding of the screenplay industry is that the writers often receive even less respect as creative people than in the book industry, and that’s really disappointing. Almost all of my consideration towards trying independent and self-published work is because of creative control reasons (after all, with an illustrator husband, I know I can get the best book cover ever, but how many traditional houses would let me run with that?).

      ~A

      1. That’s sadly true. I know the main reason Kevin Smith kept directing his movies after Clerks became a hit was to keep somebody else from coming in & wrecking his scripts & characters.

        Granted, there are hired-hand screenwriters who just do drafts for projects given to them by directors or producers, but there are also hired-hand directors who helm projects given to them by producers or executives. And yet, thanks to increasingly fanatical devotion to auteur theory throughout the industry, the screenwriter is nearly always treated like a pawn & the director is nearly always exalted as the sole person responsible for a film’s success or failure.

        A playwright, on the other hand, tends to get a lot more respect, at the very least because his script gets published for public exposure–so people can see what he actually intended–& can be produced more than once–so he might get another chance at a faithful presentation.

        Indie publication can help you with the covers in more ways than one, too: Once you & Ty are established as a successful author-illustrator team, future publishers should be more willing to let you continue to work together. 🙂

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