Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A Fantasy Language For My First Novel

We have all had the experience of reading a fantasy novel and found that we don't know how to pronounce the names of the characters and places we are reading. Does it matter since we ARE reading and not trying to speak those words? Well yes, many people do find it an issue, so we should make sure that as writers we are not  giving readers cause to put down our work.

Before I actually started writing my first novel, I did what all writers should do and defined my characters and the locations, etc. I decided that I wanted to use names which would be different enough to indicate their other-world origin but not so different as to be a problem. There are many name generators on the internet, expecially for fantasy writing but everyday and historical novels are also well catered for.

A short list for fantasy name generators is:-
I was very picky about the names I chose but once I had a few, I found that I could envisage the way the mix of consonants were looking and how they might sound. OK for me then, but do potential readers see things the same.

One of the features with yWriter5, which is the software I am using to write the novel, is a digital speech engine. Maybe a little eccentric but hearing the words I have written, read out aloud by even a machine is quite different. And does give some idea of the need for punctuation.

But in this context, the speech engine is having difficulty with some of my fantasy names. I will, as requested by a friend on Facebook, be including a pronunciation list so it shouldn't be a problem, But the fact that the speech engine is having problems may indicate one or two rethinks.

Just a couple of issues:
  • The protagonist Eadwyne is pronounced (by me) as Ee-ad-win; and has a slightly welsh sound to it. However the maching reads it as Eeed-wine, A very straange sound to my ears
  • I have a character called Dinbar, for some reason it is read as 'bar. I.e no first syllable at all
  • Taienge has two syllables as far as I am concerned (Tie-enge); but the machine insists on one, Tynge
Of course this will be covered by the pronounciation guide I will include. So I am not getting too uptight but I will be reviewing the names at some stage. I might need the search and replace function in yWriter5 before I am finished.

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