On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Monday, May 30, 2005

Making Up Words

Of course I do. I write two fantasy series and that's part of worldbuilding. Most of my readers like the different words, it's part of the culture, the flavor of the book. Since I critique with romance readers, if I'm doing "too many" for someone, I hear about it.

Sometimes words just come. Frinks. That's more like a sound of the little metallic worms when they hit stone, so it became the name for those worms. Try and keep it easy so it won't cause a reader to stumble (which I have done in my time), like renders and slayers and snippers are other horrors that invade Lladrana, and if you don't know exactly what they look like when I use them, you get a general idea.

Celta -- well, it's a distant colony of Earth so I can modify earth words. Chiff -- Her dress was floaty chiff -- (chiffon). But the Celtans have had 400 years since colonization, and their "magic/psi powers" (Flair) have changed the culture and demanded new words, usually based on my handy Welsh dictionary. Hey, my name is Owens, sue me. "He's terribly gwr, Danith. Really virile," says Trif Clover in HeartMate. The context should give you an idea that gwr is sexy-manly-yum (and yes, since I only used it once I had to look it up).

Sometimes words don't work. I used whiskey and was told to do make up a word for it. Well, whiskey is essentially a Gaelic word to begin with. You can fool around with the spelling, like chiff, but I went to my Welsh dictionary and used chwisge. Problem is, my critique buddies didn't know how to pronounce it until I read it aloud. So though I'd become fond of the word, it had to go. Whiskey it is and it will stay.

Flair, the psi-powers-pretty-much-magic, that Celtans have was a VERY tough word for me. I had planned on using Talent, as had Anne McCaffrey in her futuristic books, but then Jayne Ann Krentz, as Jayne Castle, published her "flower" series, Amaryllis being the first. She used Talent. That was out. I really struggled for another word, thought and perused word lists, and finally decided on Flair -- a little extra something that only takes one word...I didn't know that Dara Joy used Fam (as a race not a sentient animal companion-sidekick) until after I was published and that was too late to change.

So keep it as simple as you can so your readers won't trip ANYTHING THAT PULLS THE READER FROM THE BOOK IS BAD. If you want to use something odd, put it in context with other words that the reader can easily figure out.

Well, it's gray and cool today and my feet are cold from wrapping them around the metal chair support, and Diva already has come, tromped around the desk, slipped in front of the monitor when she stepped on a portfolio that was covering air instead of wood and is whining. No cat whines like a Siamese.

I'll say again, that I talk a little about word choice etc. on my radio interview (which has LOTS of excerpts from Guardain of Honor) at
HealthyLife.net in the ARCHIVES, under Dana Taylor, Definitely Dana, on the left. I was first up ;)

And there are excerpts of all my work, including odd words, up at my website http://www.robindowens.com/reads/reads.htm under READS. WORLDS has additional info about the worlds/stories, character interviews etc.

Love to all,


Blogger Sela Carsen said...

Isn't making up words one of the perqs of this job?

6:35 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

Absolutely. But sometimes it can take thought...and I don't know that readers realize that.

5:19 PM  

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