Naming Stuff: Glossary

I’m continuing my worldbuilding series covering my approaches to naming elements of my fantasy world. This, the second post, addresses special terms from my Ontyre glossary. I’m trying to minimize explaining magic and instead explain my approach to naming.

Thus far in the series, Naming Stuff:

1. Characters

I almost didn’t write this post because the vast majority of my terms don’t have fantastical names.Then, I came to my senses and realized, that’s the point. As I mentioned last week, I more strategically flavor the world with made-up words. Nowhere does that hold more true than with my glossary terms, the reason summed up in one word.

Readers.

Always make it as easy on the reader as possible while sharing a good story.

If any single worldbuilding philosophy has endured over the years, it’s been my vow to create magical realism — in another world. I wanted Ontyre accessible to the reader, a place that, were they transported there, they could fumble their way to understanding. Given all the original character names and place names, there’s a lot to absorb already.

Glossary terms, which are most closely linked to how things work are a fantasy world’s foundation. More than anything, I want readers to grasp that foundation’s principles.

In short, I wanted a word mix representing words:

  • With the same meaning (a crow is a crow, even if Mazatta can talk)
  • Easily reasoned (a motokar is simply a variation on motorcar)
  • Requiring minimal explanation (a partial is someone with part of a wizard or witch’s full gift)
  • Invented for Ontyre (mysquan is a mineral that holds spells exceptionally well)

Terms have evolved over the years, some discarded because the worldbuilding changed or they were overly complicated. Some, I simply haven’t used.

There’ve been two distinct worldbuilding periods so I’ll break my examination that way. In-between was the lost decade. In late 2004 my personal life became a dumpster fire, then surgeries in 2008, and HP ravaging my lungs beginning in 2009. Relapses and more oxygen deprivation followed, along with little writing.

Epic Fantasy Period (2000-04)

This was the beginning of everything. Dominating this glossary period was the basic magic system (+20K), along with cultural and historic terms for Carrdia, Forstava, and the long gone Old Empire. It was when I invented the key term, Mysquanmutry (study of magic).

Tremjara 2003

The original Tremjara map from 2003. Carrdia is correct, but Pannulus didn’t exist. Instead, there’s a single island in the upper right. ©2020 CA Hawthorne

The vast majority of the system is vital only as a guide for me. Otherwise, the three most often cited words are ones instantly recognizable: balance, lifeforce, and saturation. Lifeforce is easy to understand, though I reduced it to one word. Saturation is a basic word with a new meaning (a gifted person’s magic reserves). To have ample amounts of those two terms is balance.

Simple.

There’s far more of course, but it’s all words like the above three.

My focus was on medieval epic fantasy at the time. Some wizard/sorcerer spells were the Aperture and Maelstrom, both Earth words for traveling the Astral Plane. A Death Spell (irreversible spell cast at the moment of death) was almost discarded. Then, I decided the awkward explanations (it isn’t a weapon) made for light moments. It’s also proven to make the explanation more memorable.

All that time spent on the ora’eans of Forstava? I’ve used quite little of it because my writing went in a different direction (but I still have it!).

Some other easy terms? Sorcerers store lifeforce in a crypt vessel. Fortified homes with an outer wall and narrow windows offer added protection in Carrdia.

Jazz Age Fantasy (2017 to Present)

I returned to writing in 2015, but it was a struggle. In 2017, though, a doctor normalized my health so my oxygen saturation was ALWAYS excellent. The ability to think clearly caused a creative explosion.

Later, I’d rewrite the early Kovenlore Chronicles novels, adapting them to a dystopian society seeking to claim the mechanical age it lost. First, though, I created the modern age in Pannulus (1925 is the top of my research bell curve). That meant a dynamic economy and culture and stories centered around crime, espionage, and some lgbt characters.

Tremjara 2020A - Labled

The new Tremjara Map, completed in 2018. At full size, it’s at least 5x bigger than the original. Note the appearance of Pannulus, the shape of the original island still visible. ©2020 CA Hawthorne

Technology meant adapting the magic system’s rules. Hevion gas (Hv) helps airships descend. Potions are a huge industry and witch’s breath is the key ingredient. Besides airships and trains, there are motokars (cars).

There are still witches and wizards, but partials became zycons (derived from icon) because I wanted some differences. I adapted Roaring Twenties slang to include new words recalling the era, like flapping (fashionable), and those unique to Pannulus culture, like slurper (potion addict).

A thriving economy meant a focus on companies, design, and products. Art Deco became Tyde Deco (Tyde is the Pannulus city where it originated) with some Pannulus-unique aspects. Talma’s camera is a Cleia-I (Leica scrambled) and she drives a Tonare Apex Roadster. Tonare just sounded like a motokar company and Apex hinted magic, as does its gorgeous hood ornament).

A big part of Pannulus is crime, especially selling potions (illegals are unregulated). Cultists who follow the Dominion religion out of Draskrith often prey upon certain minorities.

This is but a tiny sample, of course, but there’s enough to see how I adhere to magic realism and my word mix. Too, the wide range of Pannulus words as opposed to in Carrdia goes to show how worldbuilding elements affect what’s required.

Next week, creatures and groups.

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About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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3 Responses to Naming Stuff: Glossary

  1. Pingback: Naming Stuff: Creatures and Peoples | Christina Anne Hawthorne

  2. Pingback: Naming Stuff: Places | Christina Anne Hawthorne

  3. Pingback: Naming Stuff: Titles (plus news) | Christina Anne Hawthorne

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