Nov 4, 2012

Nomen et Nemo

Originally posted in October:

      What would the point of taking Latin for 2+ years be if not to write insane sounding blog titles? Technically I was going to write this one yesterday, but the internet had to go and delete everything I wrote. Then it was later than I usually post and I still had things to do, so I went to one of the easier sounding options.

      Nomen et Nemo. Name and No One. If there's anything Latin will do for you, it will give you an idea of what "nomenclature" means without looking up the definition and give you totally new ideas regarding "finding nemo."

      After all, how do you find no one? Unless you're a giant cyclops living in ancient times when there are certain evile heroes going around poking you in the eye and calling themselves Nobody.

      And there I go and digress again.

      The way I see it, nomenclature and certain nobodies are important in stories. Have you ever picked up a book and been able to tell a lot about a person's surroundings or parents just by his or her name? I recently discovered that a certain character who hadn't been telling me her name was called Java by her parents. I soon after found that her mother thought that names needed meaning and was a little eccentric. Also, she'd just gotten adventurous with her younger daughter. Her other daughter's names were much more tame, being Bronya (she was convinced it meant bronze) and Eve.

      I also think it's important to make names right for the era or nation, depending on what kind of book you're writing. I don't do much of anything in the historic or contemporary genres (that is no offense to those genres--I still quite enjoy reading them), but even fantasy, science fiction, and other similar genres need to have suitable names. I write fantasy most of the time. I have multiple nations and I have guidelines I set myself regarding each nation. The dwarves, for example, won't name their children anything that has more than four letters. Sure, maybe that's not a sort of complex nomenclature, but each nation will have different names to represent them. Names that will clue the reader into who exactly they're meeting. 

      It rather stinks, though. I named one dwarf Cato, after the Roman leader, but I'm afraid The Hunger Games is going to make me change that.

      I mean, if you're writing historic fiction, you should make sure that your names fit the era. Contemporary? If you're writing anything with people from other nations, make sure that they have names suitable for the country in particular. We writers in the more make-believe worlds might have it easier in the fact that we can name our characters almost anything, but even we need to add order to our names. If that requires giving one nation names of only four letters or less, so be it.

      And then we come to Nemo. Never trust that a certain nobody is really no one. Often times, they're more important than you realize. Besides, no one's tend to have some of the most interesting stories. My character, B? He was a nobody when I first met him. Some random somebody who somehow appeared in my story. Little did I know that he was the main person who got my MMC (main male character) where he was. He wasn't necessarily a nobody in the backstory, that's for sure.

      A character who's not there for much of anything? Don't trust those feelings. My simple, cardboard-would-envy-them, Mary-Sue's (somehow this got to being the saying used for "perfect" characters) of characters will come to me a year or so later and slap me as they show me their true purpose. Then I'm eternally annoyed with them for not telling me sooner.


      Just don't be scared to press those certain characters for answers. Besides, it's a great activity when you're sitting in that hospital lobby for 45+ minutes. Just saying.

      Now to end this ramble.

      -Silence K. Grulkey

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