It’s our favorite day of the week! That means it’s time to ramble.
One of my favorite things about writing fantasy is the ability to just make stuff up. There are so many opportunities to let your imagination take over, and my daydreaming time increases whenever I’m working on a fantasy WIP.
I’ve always told myself that the reason I love weaving my own worlds out of thin air is that I know very little about reality. That’s not true, of course (to an extent), but at times, I do feel like I belong in the worlds that I craft more so than the world in which I live. Everything makes sense, and as the writer, you get to pull nonsense out of thin air and make it law.
There’s just one thing I can’t do too well: name things.
I can describe stuff. I can words.
But I can’t give titles to things to save my life.
“Look at that beautiful castle, its winding towers rising high into the orange-tinted sunset! The last rays of daylight make their desperate attempt to hold onto the rust-red stonework, extending to the outer gates, steel contorting into spikes that claw at the clouds as if defying god.”
“Oh, my. What is this place called?”
For a while, I had embarrassingly bad names for the various kingdoms of my fantasy world. But I think the single worst thing I’ve ever written in any draft ever has to be that one time I was trying to find the perfect name for a villain.
There’s no feeling in the world that’s quite like making up names for characters. In a fantasy novel, the experience can be especially thrilling because you can get away with smushing random sounds together and calling it good. You can find some pretty creative and beautiful names this way.
And with the assistance of Good ‘Ole Google, you can even find words in different languages and mix them together to come up with a special name that has extra meaning.
The problem was, this was when I was a kid. My family didn’t have access to the Internet in those days, so I had to be creative all on my own. And I had this wonderfully sociopathic character who was just as quietly menacing as he was violent.
I started with syllables that sounded threatening. Hard K’s are cool, but Z’s are interesting too. I ended up giving this villain a one-syllable last name that started with a Z.
Good start! Now, for the first name…
Annnnnnd, I got nothing.
I wanted something fresh and original, so I just started going through each letter of the alphabet and pairing it with other letters of the alphabet, all at random.
“A is for AhhhhICan’tFindAName…B is for Boy,IsThisFreakin’Difficult…C is for CanIHaveACookieNow…Can I buy a vowel? Can I buy an O?”
I was getting somewhere. I could feel it. I kept trying for what must have been an hour. And to a kid who could be doing better things with her time (such as actually writing the chapter featuring this dastardly baddie), an hour is an eternity. My brain was mush. The edge of my hand was smudged dark purple from rubbing against my inked-up paper. The margins of my page were literally covered with random letters and sounds.
But I was getting somewhere! It was on the tip of my tongue!
“Orion? That’d be cool…no, it’s got to be newer, fresher…On…Ion…ONION!”
I penned the ingenious name down and started writing my chapter. And I kid you not, I had gone like a paragraph before realizing what I had just named my villain.
I wanted to slap my clipboard against my face.
I had named him Onion.
So, let this be a lesson to you, kids: if your parents name you something stupid like Onion, it’s only because they took so much time and put so much effort into creating the perfect name just for you that their brains turned to jelly and their IQ dropped to 5.
Have a weekend, lovely, you earned it!