Thursday, May 12, 2022

Creating New Words for Your Stories

Posted by: Deborah A Bailey


Usually, I create words for my fantasy and science fiction worlds, but it can be a challenge to come up with them. Often I research topics I'm basing stories on, and then that helps me to decide.

For instance, for my latest book, Blood Red Moon, one of the main characters is a Templar. One of the supporting characters is the Templar third in command, a woman I only identify as the Seneschal. That rank would've actually been the second-in-command. But I liked the sound of the word.

No, I didn't create that word. Instead, I used one that already existed and was a good fit for the story. If it's possible to use an existing word that works (and if you can use it in your work) there's nothing wrong with that.

Other words I used in the book were from languages, such as, Latin and Spanish. For instance, the phoenix character is associated with a vampire. She's referred to as a blood, or sanguis phoenix. Sanguis, being a Latin word for blood.  The phoenix associated with gold is referred to as an aurum phoenix (aurum is Latin for gold).

In my novella, Heart of Stone, I only ended up creating one word, "Malida." The reason I created it was because I wanted to use it during a conversation between the hero and heroine. Willem, the hero, uses that word to refer to the heroine's grandmother. The grandmother is a former queen of the province where the story is set. In the aftermath of a war, the heroine, Leesa, and her grandmother are (as far as they know) the only remaining members of the royal family.

When Willem asks Leesa about her grandmother he calls her Malida, a term of endearment meaning "great mother." For Willem to know that name, he would have to have known more about the family than he's admitting.

Sometimes words come to me easily, other times I have to do a lot of brainstorming. It all depends on how the word feels to me and whether I think it's a fit. It can be a challenge to find (or create) the perfect word or phrase, but when you hit on just the right one, it adds another layer to the story world.


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