Sunday, May 27, 2012

Watch Your Language!

Hello, my pretties. I see I've got  your attention. Good.

Today I wanted to talk about the language you will find your characters using in fantasy. Especially when this fantasy takes place in another world, or a distant past. It's important to figure out early how your characters will talk before you begin writing a page of dialogue. Or, at least at some point in your first draft.

It took me maybe 5 years to work on my first fantasy, Spell of the Black Unicorn. While working on it, I realized that these people may have different sayings. You know those trite things people say. Like For Pete's sakes! That sort of thing? Well, they wouldn't say this if they were from another planet, would they? They have a different life apart from ours, so everything they say, and even the way they may think is quite different. They may have different terms for things. And their rules of life, as well as how punishment is worked out, would be different. Especially when you're dealing with magical beings.

A short description:
Zofia Trickenbod is from another planet, but is stuck on Earth for the time being, as she's sworn protector of the Stone of Irdisi, and needs to keep it out of the hands of a very evil sorcerer. the humans are called ugwumps, and her invisible servant, Biddle is a Ghogal. Both of these are made up words, and believe me it took me a while to come up with them. I had to make sure that neither one was used as something, just in case.

The word Transvect is not a made up word. It means to move--fly, basically--from one place to another. I have a number of books on witchcraft and came across it one day. This was used in the days when people believed that witches could fly. It was perfect, and because it no longer is in use, it does sound made up.

Whenever I felt that my character had to curse, I wanted to stay away from modern, Earthly terms. I began to experiment with other things. Using words that they would use, plus a code of conduct. Here's what I came up with:

Set-up, Zofia's long-thought dead husband, Dorian, returns/finds her on Earth and she has let him into her home. She has learned he has been turned into a vampire.

Eyes watching his languid gate, they slid up to his butt.Imps! Didn't mean to go there! It wasn't like she could claim him as her husband. He was an Undead, and under Code 137-7 (or was it Code 126-7?), the Undead could not return to their home and claim to be married, because of the Taboo against doing it with a vampires. Taboos were definitely the biggest no-no's to break. Breaking Code was one thing, and people broke one or more on a daily bases. Breaking any Taboo brought some serious consequences, and usually someone would find out because someone would blab. It could send you into Hamparzum's, which was filled with the most vile and wicked wizards, sorcerers, demons, Ghogals, and anything else they threw in there. You'd be lucky to survive it, and if you did, come back sane.

Dorian explains what happened and why it took him so long to find her:

"Not only was my soul taken, but also my memory. That's why I couldn't communicate to you what had happened." He stifled another yawn with a fist to his mouth. "Sorry," he said. Glancing at his watch he said, "Oracle of Zamora! No wonder I feel dead on my feet. I need my nap." He surged up the stairs. Half way up he paused, pivoted, and regarded her. "This is all your house, isn't it? I mean, you don't share it with any Ugwumps, do you?"

My thought on the Codes of Ethics and figuring out a form of punishment/jailing for infractions and serious crime-doing by magical beings such as sorcerers. Hamparzum's is not a jail, it is a place. I explain further into the story how all the imprisoned are magically held there. It is also guarded by other creatures if one wanders too close to it.

I figured out along the way that these people were originally from Earth and right around the time when they began persecuting witches, the Immortals found a new home, and were able to take them there in magical orbs, and things called a Sorcerer's Tree.

When I began writing this story, in the very beginning, I was going to write a mystery and Zofia was going to be a common, everyday woman who owned a wiccan shop. There would be a murder, and something would happen at her shop that would draw her into this murder (a cozy, I guess). At some point, Zofia decided she was NOT a human, but a sorceress. Zofia has far more exciting things to do than just work in a shop. Further more, she wasn't from Earth, but from another planet, they call Euphoria where they rule and the humans are somewhat inferior to them. But all kinds of fantasy creatures abound. Especially unicorns.

This book was written after I began consuming the first of the Harry Potter series. I realized that I loved fantasy the most. You can allow your imagination to soar.

It took me about 5 years from start to publication (self-published). I was so very excited to finally have a book with my name on it in physical form. But because I used a second party by which to publish this (had to pay for it), they set the price for the book, and there was no ebook (unless I paid again for that). Well, I've taken control out of their hands--which was a little bitter sweet, since this book meant so much to me, and they were very easy to work with and answered questions within 24 hours. But, again, I had no control over the price of the book. It was going for $17.95. Since the first year it came out, I've sold 0 books. It made no since in leaving it with them when I could put it out there as my own Indie book, and put it out as an ebook on Amazon, and Smashwords, and set the prices myself.

Well, that's what I plan on doing. When that will happen, I don't know. I've got other things I'm working on. But this book, and its sequel are special to me, as it was the first book I ever had published. Both the first book, and sequel, are paranormal romances, and I'd love to get this first one out there again, give it new wings, because I think people will like it!

Hope I've given you things to ponder about your next fantasy.

Hope everyone has a happy, safe, and good Memorial weekend!


  1. Great post. Language is vital to shaping a world and its people. Just those little exclamations say so much about them.

  2. You're right about that, Christine!

  3. Smart things to think about when writing fantasy. I have some dream fantasy sequences in my manuscript and I've written some unpublished stories about angels so I've dabbled with fantasy and always think about our modern language--then again--fiction is fiction so maybe it shouldn't matter.

  4. It's a good way of setting your characters apart this way.

  5. The Desert Rocks ~I would think it would depend on the angels. I mean, they would probably have picked up our idioms, and speach patterns. Especially if they have kept up with technology. I mean what does an angle to all day long? You can't stand around looking pious forever.

    Sir William, yes, indeed!

  6. Very good point! Just look at all the differences in terminology between English speaking countries, and even between regions within the same country.

  7. Yes. The spelling of certain words, too are different. Thanks for stopping and making comment, Emma!


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