Writer’s Craft #100 – Weird names. Good or bad.
Your host, Lynda Williams, is the author of the Okal Rel Saga (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing) and editor of the Okal Rel Legacies series (Absolute Xpress). She also works as Learning Technology Manager for Simon Fraser University and teaches an introductory web development course at BCIT. For a list of Okal Rel titles see: Lynda Williams on Amazon.com.
Readers mispronounce the names of my characters and places. It’s not their fault. The starry-eyed teenager who invented words like “Gelion” and “Ranar” was lousy at pronounciation and a creative speller. I’d give my younger self a C- for fictional proper nouns. Of course, people who have been to the Okal Rel Universe have been living with the vocabulary for years now, so it’s too late to name Amel something there’s only one way to pronounce.
So should I have named more characters something predictable, like Ann, the protagonist of Part 1: The Courtesan Prince? Or is it better to have a unique brand?
In an email exchange with Stephanie Ann Johanson, artist and editor of Neo-opsis magazine, she said: “when we first looked up ‘Neo-opsis’ online there were no hits … For a while, every hit for a search of Neo-opsis was for our magazine” And this is generally considered to be good.
Google “Ann” and you get many pages with no hit for the Okal Rel Universe. But everyone knows how to pronounce her name. Google “Horth Nersal” and it’s three pages before you find a hit that isn’t about the alpha-male lead of the Okal Rel Universe. (Yes, all right Amel, I know you get to be more powerful eventually, but alpha male? Come on! Be happy I let you punch Eler Nersal in Part 8.)
How about your character names? Did you go for unique hits or easy recognition? Would you change them now, if you could?