1. ANT (Bar YOSEF)
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    ANT (Bar YOSEF) Contributing Member

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    Fantasy terms

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ANT (Bar YOSEF), Jan 22, 2008.

    In a fantasy novel can you use real world terms for things, such as genie, or would you have to call them something different?
     
  2. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    I would think it would depend upon context. For example, should there be a person from the real world, they may refer to it with real world terms. If, and it seems that this is the case, you are wondering about natives of your world referring to them... then call them whatever you see fit. If you want to call it a genie, good... if you want them to have their own name for their species, then after you introduce it so that the reader understands, you can go with that.

    Sorry if I'm drabbling without saying anything... :p... The television has fried my brain.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's your work, so you can call anything anything you want... whether it works, depends on the context and the background against which you set your tale...
     
  4. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Well, so long as you make it understandable what it is you're trying to get across. If you say 'goblin', everyone knows what you're after- if you say djinni, you're probably talking about genies or something nearby (Don't mention Golden Sun, please). If you talk about Mraklins, well, you'll have to explain it to them. The trick is to try not to use words that already have other meanings- if you make a new version of Orcs and call them Dragons, you're going to get into trouble.

    My personal trick is to use an inverse relationship between name bizarreness and creature bizarreness- as in, the crazier the one, the saner the other. I'm calling my race of malformed beasts Residents, referring to the fact that they now live (reside) where other creatures don't, or can't. Yeah?

    EDIT: In reply to your question, you could use the 'normal' name for any beast. However, if you do that, stick with the most basic creatures- There are no Umber Hulks except in AD&D, there are no Ur-Grues except in Zork and its spinoffs (and those things that are trying to be clever), and there are no Ice Trolls except wherever they're from, et cetera. And stay far, far away from Adjective Creature names. Different species, different name; same species, same name.
     
  5. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    Plenty of fantasy works use words that well known in our world for races etc.

    Like B-Gas said, if you use dragons/orcs but they're different, then you'll need to explain what's different about them for sure.

    But honestly, my advice would be to be original. I believe the best fantasy is where we're not familiar with certain aspects mentioned within. For example, we all know about elves, orcs etc. But say you used a fresh name and race, we wouldn't be familiar with it.

    Regardless, that's my two pence.
     
  6. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Some of my favourte phantisy (Spelt the old English way...Shoot me.) tales don't involve the cliques of the genre, like Orks, and Elves. Try to be creative... people like that.
     
  7. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    If you use a "generic" or already established term such has genies or goblins you have the benefit of them already knowing what they are, generally, though you should still specify. If you make up the term, even if similar to an already established one, readers probably won't have as clear of a picture, though your story may be more unique. It's hard to say out of context of a specific story or terminology.
     
  8. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Try not to go overboard with new terms. Calling every animal that's real by a different name can be confusing.
     
  9. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    You know, I think you should make a balance between how much of the generic fantasy you use and how much of your own you use.

    Use the terms, but make them your own. If you've got Genies, how is it that they work? Are they like the Disney three wishes Genies? Are they the kind that are spirits bound to objects that serve their masters? Are they fire spirits with OGWTFBBQ magic? Or, are they something similar, but quite different?

    I could use an example of my own, but I do that too much, so I'll use someone else's:
    Elder Scrolls. Sure they played elves themselves so painful, haughtily straight, you N'weh, the Dwarves and the Orcs were something different. Orcs weren't the Alway Chaotic Evil race, they were a subset of Elves who lived in the mountains. They're gruff, and don't like outsiders (Who in Morrowind did though? Fetcher), but they're a proud people. To a lesser extent WoW did the same thing, but they started out as Chaotic Evil, and while they say they're Shamanistic now, they're still embracing the spikes of villainy and the anger.
    In the Elder Scrolls the Dwarves were also Elves, the Deep Elves, who after screwing around with Steam Punk technology vanished from the earth. Though steam punk dwarves is done slightly more than good orcs.
     
  10. nburwell
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    nburwell Senior Member

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    Stereotypically, you are supposed to give new names to species and places that have nothing to do with earth and that we have never heard of, but earthly names to species, things and places that are similar to earth. Realistically (or ideally), you can give whatever names you want to whatever you want in your story, because it is your story. As Mammamaia says, whether it works depends on the context and the background of the story. (She said it so perfectly couldn't think of a way to put it into my own words :))

    ~Natalie
     

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