I was reading a post about a romance set in Egypt and I was trying to get through the names. And I realized, poor thing, there were really complicated names in ancient Egyptian culture. And to make matters worse, the book was about a historical figure so she couldn’t just use “Ramses”.
I’ve had discussions about names with other authors of unusual historicals. I’d have to say this is one area I’m very cognizant of. Even if the writing is spectacular, if the name makes you trip every time you say it, it’s definitely a deterrent. Of course, I read and loved Dune with its multiple apostrophed titles and names. So maybe that’s why Asian settings have been able to make some headway in the fantasy genre.
In any case, I have five swordsmen to name. Currently they exist in my outline as “Swordsman #” They all have to have accessible names and their names have to be different enough from each other that they don’t get mixed up. This is what you might call an ensemble piece so it’s going to make it harder. Then on top of that, the masculine names have to sound masculine to the Western ear.
I’m very, very much into the shape and sound of words on the page and now you can see why!
I’ve been tossing around what to do next and my CP helped me find my way — which is why it’s important to have partners that are good at the things you suck at. For me it’s coming up with ideas and where to put commas.
So I wondered if I should leave medieval China, try something else. Something maybe more “marketable” in case this China thing doesn’t work. But I just couldn’t. So if anything, I’m going deeper into the wuxia genre that inspired me by adding paranormal elements.
It’s quite exciting! The supernatural is so prominently woven into Chinese history and culture that I practically feel like I’m still researching a historical rather than worldbuilding for a paranormal romance. There are major texts on the supernatural and a city that is well known to contain the gate to the underworld. I mean, so well known that there’s practically nothing mysterious about it. I’ll have to change that in my book. And it’ll have all the things I love — swords, honor, melodramatic characters – LOL.
I’m trying to learn something new by brainstorming a series. All my previous stories were related, but standalone. Plotting a series you need to think of the series arc as well as each story arc. It’s quite fascinating. I don’t have what I call the “Big Bad” nailed down yet, so things are still pretty loose.
But I do have nearly all five couples mapped out. I realize that I don’t start with character sketches or outlines or even worldbuilding. I start by matchmaking. I figure out the hero and the heroine and gauge if there’s enough conflict and chemistry for them to carry a book. I don’t know much about them other than whether they’ll spark. I guess that’s why at the heart of it, I write romance.
Oh, a hint? Tao sorcery, exorcism swords…a Secret Service team that works for the Emperor (inspired by my research for Unusual Historicals). I think I can start writing by this weekend. Giddy!