I wanted to be here 10 days ago, but I’m in a high-stress situation that vacuums up most of the mental energy this job requires. Nevertheless, the first act is done (for this round of revision). Between cuts and additions, 39 pages of Old Draft is now 48 pages of New Draft.
I talked a little about my typical naming process last time (“pinch of column A, pinch of column B, smoosh ’em together”). When that yields inadequate results, I use a trick from my merch tie-in gig: take a pinch of various words that apply to what’s being named and smoosh ’em together. Thus, we have the Thoulo Ring (the outer lower ring of a terraced city), the Eashotin Temple (on the eastern shore on a mount[a]in), Thanlarek (a person with thin lips and angular cheeks), and Saupi (the theater troupe that fed Heroine a sausage pie for breakfast). The results aren’t pretty, but they get me over naming hurdles that would otherwise bring me to a dead stop.
I also said last time I didn’t want to announce recent name changes in case they weren’t permanent. Lo and behold, I encountered Heroine’s new name and a villain’s name in close proximity for the first time, and they rhyme, which is unpleasant. Since I had a lingering grumble about that villain’s first name (only her surname was changed in the previous round), she returned to the Name Spa for her third treatment. Since this is clearly an act of aggression against me, I derived her new name entirely from “vicious.” For the remainder of this draft, at least, she will be known as Vicia. (Yes, that’s a genus of legume. No, that’s not a connection that troubles me today.)
I also needed a name for an assassin guild. (Sounds like this revision is 99% names, doesn’t it? Inevitable consequence of delegating a task I hate to Future Me.) Animal names are ubiquitous (Crows, Hawks, Vipers, Wolves). I know of several flavors of Hand. I don’t want to do a gendered Siblinghood. I actually gave up because I couldn’t contrive anything decent and went to drown my sorrows with online window shopping, during which I came across an item description containing the word “cord.” Hmm… Cords are versatile tools. Good for binding, choking, even cutting in certain applications. Could work. I decided to go with that, if only for a placeholder until the next draft. And then I had occasion to write “the Cord was a leash as well as a noose,” which I kinda like, so it has greater job security than any other name in the book.
Past Me left [SHORT PARAGRAPH OF FIGHTING] in one of these scenes. Surprise, surprise, Present Me didn’t magically have two or three sentences to fill that void, either. My default procrastisolution in such situations is to read a bunch of how-to-write books in their entirety. In a shocking twist, I have only one how-to-write-fight-scenes book in the vet-these-for-curriculum collection, and that was almost entirely “watch this movie clip on YouTube.” Visual media aren’t super instructive when it comes to word creation. Also, it’s not a great sign when your how-to-write book contains neither cited examples from books nor examples created for instructional purposes! So here’s your periodic reminder that shaking money out of people who want to learn to write often pays better than writing fiction, and a great deal of how-to is generated by people who don’t know what they’re doing (beyond ripping off people who know even less than they do).
The next chunk will have Heroine and Hero alone at last. A big part of the work there will be setting up the possibility of feels. The first draft was very focused on plot at the expense of emotion. Time to start strengthening the romance.