My first novel was also my first experience trying to create a fantasy world from the ground up. With Tolkien as my only model, I waded hip deep into Scottish history and Auld English linguistics to come up with character, clan, place and object names for my fantasy trilogy, The Mer Cycle.
Here’s what I learned: whatever names I use, it pays to simplify their spelling wherever possible.
A sense of place plays a critical role in determining whether a reader “gets into” a story or not. Good place names can lend an aura of reality to even the most fictional of places. Conversely, an obviously made up place name in a story that pretends at reality can make a location that seems perfectly real to the author seem perfectly ridiculous to the reader.
What if the name hadn’t been “James Bond”? What if the name Ian Fleming gave his super spy had been “Crane, Ichabod Crane?”
Today I’ll be attending a monthly lunch, where writers meet at a pizza sports bar of central location (easy access via the I-5), moderate prices and unremarkable food. The writer’s lunch seems to be a vital life-line for lonely writers, … Continue reading
It’s spring break. Last Friday, my son and a friend decided to do a movie marathon of The Lord of The Rings trilogy. One of his friends had never seen it. I can’t remember if my son had seen it … Continue reading
Here’s Tolkien himself, in a letter to Milton Waldman, probably written about 1951 but never sent: “Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more … Continue reading
Each of us has our own story about how we discovered Middle Earth. For me, it was a radio version of The Hobbit, produced by my friend Dan Rubin (who turned out to be a distant cousin, but that’s another … Continue reading
In celebration of Tolkien’s twelfty birthday this year, the publisher Little Brain and Miffed is bringing out a heavily revised version of Lord of the Rings which they say is, ‘more resonant with today’s sensibilities.’ So, what have they changed? … Continue reading
This blog post is included in: No Time to Spare Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin Introduction by Karen Joy Fowler December 5, 2017 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt … Continue reading
I bought and read Salon book reviewer Laura Miller’s The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia because of an observation she made in an interview about it: When you’re writing children’s books, or writing about children’s books, there is … Continue reading