Caveat Scriptor

Writer, beware.

One of the things I love most about writing fantasy is world creation, exploring a world where anything can happen — as long as it follows your rules. Fantasy writer Orson Scott Card has explained world-building better than I can, so I will limit my thoughts to word-building — the invention of names.

It was word-building that first dragged me into the messy world of fantasy. Before I ever read Tolkien, I was making up languages and drawing maps. Reading Lord of the Rings was a confirmation of what I already knew: there were other worlds to explore. All I had to do was stick my flag in the ground and start naming things.

In the advertising world, people are paid to make up new words. What they realize (most of the time) is that we are all neck-deep in words these days — slang, product names, new terms for things that didn’t exist an hour ago. On an average day of reading, I may run into half a dozen words I’ve never seen before — because they are so new they haven’t made it into the dictionary.

Usually I just Google unfamiliar words, and most of the time figure out what they mean in the context I’m reading. I also see a lot of things they might mean. When I Google dax, I learn that it may refer to the German stock index (Deutscher Aktien Index), a hair-care company, a character on Star Trek, a company that makes eco-friendly products, a singer, an actor, a really funny guy, and (apparently) a transsexual prostitute.

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