Sunday, June 17, 2007


As I have more unfamiliar folks read through my work, most of them butt up against the same difficulty: my strange terminology.

For a little background, WIP#1 follows what we would deem a "royal" family. However, my political system isn't exactly run like a traditional monarchy, so to avoid that pitfall, I made up my own titles. My loose equivalent of a king is a sho, my princess would be a shalina, so on and so forth... I did this, partly to keep this from being a typical monarchy, and partly to differentiate this land from others. (there are kings and queens in my world, just not in this particular nation)

But, no one seems to be particularly open to the odd terms, and if I go to the extent in the work to say that "the shalina is like a princess" then I've defeated what I intended to do in the first place by associating the two terms. I don't want them to be interchangeable, just simliar.

So, my question is, at what point do I have to concede my own wants to cater to the reader? Is clinging to my invented terms just shooting myself in the foot? Is thinking that I can re-invent terminolgy just the height of arrogance?

Some how, this really depresses me. I mean, I believe that I've created this rich new world, but if I have to keep calling it by things people are familiar with, is anyone ever going to realize that it's not just the same old same old? Or, is it a case of "a rose by any other name"?


Rachel said...

Do you think that putting a glossary in the back of the book would help this at all? I know that I often will peek at the very back of a book to see if it has a glossary then reference it throughout the book if I need to. Just a suggestion :) This is Caly btw :)

K.A. Stewart said...

Yay! My second-ever comment-leaver!

And you know, there seems to be a rather sharp divide between the people who like glossaries, and the people who loathe them.

I don't know that I'll have enough strange terms to warrant an entire glossary (though, now that I think about it, I do have words in other languages that might be helpful, and maybe some of the sailing terms as well...hmm..)

It's always an option. I keep hoping, by the time I finish this beast, I'll have had some big epiphany that will make it all clear.

Peggy K said...

I guess my first question is whether you really need new titles. I'm not sure there has been a "typical monarchy" when you look at all of human history and include non-European countries. If your "sho" is really pretty-much a king, you could call him a king but make clear in the text what the limitations to his power are. (Actually "sho" makes me think of "shah" which has its own baggage.)

In terms of "catering to the reader" I think you have to keep in mind how confusing it can be to read a story with a lot of new terms. You may not notice since you are so immersed in the story. Personally, I'm fine with a few new titles - as long as you explain them somewhere - but I don't really like it when every character has a made-up title.