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Holbrook
July 15th, 2002, 05:37 PM
Ok, I know I should start three threads, but I am too tired tonight to do so.

Names in fantasy. It there a rule in fantasy writing that says one must use rather strange names for your characters?

Like Pat'thee or Dragmonk???

Is your work not fantasy when you use modern names?

In my latest work I have used names like "Jack" "Albert" "George" etc

Does this make the work less "fantasy" I don't think so.

Also setting can't I blend bits from various times and places to create my world?

Does it have to be "High Medieval" all the time?

The whole thing to me about fantasy is that you take bits from reality and make your own world with its own rules.

Framework

Somehow I think folks are getting a bit hidebound. It is as if the work does not have pages of description within the first chapter.
Almost setting everything out at one go, they are not prepared to stick with the work.

I want my reader to learn about my world by reading the story. To find out about the characters and place as they read their adventures.

I don't want to plonk down a huge info dump every three pages explaining the world, or what the hero did when he was three UNLESS the facts or part fact is important to the story I am telling.

Question: Am I strange to expect a reader to make the effort and learn about my world as he/she goes along. Or must I spoon feed him/her....


A confused Holbrook

Miriamele
July 15th, 2002, 05:59 PM
The whole thing to me about fantasy is that you take bits from reality and make your own world with its own rules

It seems like you answered most of your own questions yourself. The beauty of fantasy is that you get to make up your own world with your own rules. So if you want to name every character John Smith, go ahead!

As for blending bits from different time periods into your story, I would say go ahead as long as it seems to fit. For example, if the setting is predominantly medieval I think it would be okay to put in a clock or printing press but not a microwave oven. (I'm sure you wouldn't do that but I'm just illustrating my point.)


Am I strange to expect a reader to make the effort and learn about my world as he/she goes along. Or must I spoon feed him/her....

I don't think you're strange to think so. No reader appreciates having to wade through a huge info dump in the first three pages of text. It's far better IMO to drop little bits of info as the story progresses, not only so that the reader can absorb it all but to leave room for a few suprises. Mystery is what you want to create at the beginning of a story; it's what makes the reader want to keep reading.

It sounds to me like your head is screwed on straight. Stick with what you know and don't let other people make you feel confused. :)

Bardos
July 15th, 2002, 06:46 PM
Names in fantasy. It there a rule in fantasy writing that says one must use rather strange names for your characters?

Is your work not fantasy when you use modern names?

Of course it is!

Thought, IMHO, if you are writing about 'another' world, it's better if you use 'other' names also. Now, would they have names just like ours "in a galaxy far away"? :) So, personaly, I use strange names.

But, that doesn't meant that's the "right way" or anything. (Actually, someone told me there is no "right way." ;)) It still IS fantasy even if you use everyday names.


Also setting can't I blend bits from various times and places to create my world?

Does it have to be "High Medieval" all the time?

Well, as I have said before, if you don't have church and the burning of witches it's not Medieval; it's just some 'older age'. So feel free about world-building I'd say. But be logical in the way things are put on your world -- that's what's important.


I don't want to plonk down a huge info dump every three pages explaining the world, or what the hero did when he was three UNLESS the facts or part fact is important to the story I am telling.

Question: Am I strange to expect a reader to make the effort and learn about my world as he/she goes along. Or must I spoon feed him/her....

Since I use the same 'technique', I think that no, your not strange. After all, you don't need to know everything imidiately. But also I wouldn't start a story too quickly, e.g. throwing the reader in the midst of a battle, in the first pages. I prefer a smoother introduction, usually.

kegasaurus
July 15th, 2002, 09:16 PM
From what I've read through most of teh posts is that most people want the whole book or series to be availible to them straight away. This way they can make an informed judgement on whether or not the book is good.

If you don't offer this, then people are going to write that there is not enough information and that is just the way we are and as we're an opinionated lot we will offer that opinion as honestly as we can.

If your going to offer your story in snippets then this is what most will say, so all I can say is take the bumps on the rapids because at the end of teh journey, you'll be happier for it.

I don't know what the above means so ... (Shoulder shrug)

milamber_reborn
July 16th, 2002, 12:46 AM
In my novel, I have main characters with names like Tom and Christine. Then I have characters from other places with wierd names. I prefer a good mix.

Info dumping is not good, but then you have to reveal a certain amounbt of info just so the reader is at least aware of the immediate setting and the like.

You can choose a general setting (eg. medieval), then twist it to your own purposes.

Talaith
July 16th, 2002, 01:03 AM
Names...when I write I pull all my character names, or even place names, from what I lovingly refer to as my Big Book of Names (Holbrook knows about my Big Book o' Names). My main reason for doing this is that I have a very hard time just making names up on my own. I like to use names that are easy to pronounce, have a nice ring to them, and sometimes have a meaning that fits the character or place I am naming. I don't limit myself to fantasy sounding names, although most of them turn out to be. The only "rule" I use is that characters from the same part of the world have names from the same section of the book in an effort to have some sort of cultural continuity.

In science fiction you commonly see cultures that are more advanced in some technologies, but behind in others. I apply the same reasoning to my fantasy stories. I am not writing about Earth in an older time, I am writing about some other planet and one that probably made different technological advances along the way. In a society with magic I think most bets would be off. Sure, you might not have microwave ovens, but you might have a pot that cooks things without needing a fire.

As for info dumps...this is a bad habit of mine, but I don't think I do it as much as I used to...

Pirate Jenn
July 16th, 2002, 05:38 AM
Holbrook:

Names? Blend 'em and bend 'em. It's good, maybe, to have a consistency between countries--if the countries are culturally different, I suppose. The unpronouncability (ooh! That's a fun new word) of f/sf names has a bad reputation among a certain fan segment (the multi-consonant and single apostrophe'd names...as unpronouncable to us as Hebrew was before they introduced the vowel point system), but I don't care myself. Although, it's awkward when someone asks me the name of a book's main character and I can't remember it because I could never pronounce it.

Anyhow, place:
I blend strange things in several of my stories. I think the trick is to be consistent, whatever you do. If there is magic and technology, then make this clear at the beginning--no explanation more than, say, using a magic wand to open the refrigerator. Details are never data dumping when they serve a function within the story. ::firm nod::

Data dumping is bad--and beware the data-dumping within conversation (which is worse than in prose, I think). If you get a reader into the scene and slowly add the details in (physical stuff first, social and political later), the read doesn't bog down too much. A reader may settle for a new/unusual setting...but they'll always be excited by a viseral book that introduces conflict right away--in the very first sentence. I would look at your favorite authors and see what their first paragraphs look like--almost every book I own is sparse on the Big Info at the get-go.


In Other Words: you're doing the right thing. :)

Sonja Ravenscroft
July 16th, 2002, 10:49 AM
I agree that blending and creating names may be some of the best ways. I always find it cool when Terry Prachett writes a "common" names, but twists the name enough to give it enough of an ironic bent.

I know with my writing I do the blending thing, some names are common, others...not so common :)
Granted I write more Science Fiction than fantasy, but the idea still applies. I won't mention the info dump idea because a few posters have pretty much spoken my thoughts on it, it can get too time consuming for the reader unless they are dedicated.