Tuesday, January 14, 2020

# Guest Posts

Fiction Novels: How Creating a Language Can Enhance a Story by E.L. Strife @elysialstrife #fiction #writing

Fiction Novels: How Creating a Language Can Enhance a Story

By E.L. Strife

How weird would it be if all aliens spoke English? Or witches and warlocks had no spells? We all know that creating believable characters is a critical component of successful storytelling. As authors, if our works are fantastical, we can’t always design our tales from developed belief systems: rituals, dress, language, etc. Constructing worlds from scratch isn’t easy, and I wanted a way to ensure cohesiveness even when my characters changed alliances. With the number of alien species being introduced in my first book, “Stellar Fusion,” creating new languages was an absolute must.

Language is one of those details you can’t borrow or steal like a hat. It can expose the characters’ pasts, secrets, and truths without major word-count-consuming action. It strengthens the authenticity of the culture and provides a level of intimacy when getting to know the characters’ that dress and ritual may not be able to do alone.

For example, avituvey is a word I created in my fictional language for the Xahu’ré people of planet Vioras in my Infinite Spark series. You can meet them in “Stellar Fusion.” Avituvey means freedom. Consider what might happen if a character, who primarily speaks English, says “for avituvey” when confronted about their loyalty while on Earth. What might that imply about their alliances?

The critical thing to understand is that language makes a connection between Character A and a culture. One word, not because of what that word is, but because of the language it’s spoken in, can change the entire direction of the plot.

When writing science fiction and fantasy, our characters are usually relatable in some way but must still be set apart to be captivating. I like using this language technique to show a hidden loyalty by having the character converse privately with others in the preferred language. But languages can be used in many ways.

It’s helpful to consider what sorts of phrases, quotes, or sayings might be important in the base culture of the language and why. How could they differ from what we say in our pivotal moments? Also, consider creating some colloquial terms for more regular use to cover everyday things and events.

The language you create can help set the mood or even the emotional presence of a character or culture. Think of the Sindarin, or Elven, language from “The Lord of the Rings” by J. R. R. Tolkien. It is wispy and smooth as it rolls off of the tongue, reflecting the way the characters act and move in his books.

I know some people discourage creating new languages, saying that it overcomplicates the story. This can easily be the case if the creation of a language lacks direction and purpose. But I believe if you follow my tips below, a new language can bolster the cultural aspects and characters in your work.

Tips for Creating a Language in Your Book

1. Keep it simple at first with just a word or a short phrase here and there. Ease your readers into the language then build upon it. Don’t start with a paragraph.

2. If you accumulate a lot of words, provide an alphabetical list of translations to your readers, and make a dictionary of your own to use while writing.

3. When possible, offer translations in text or a footer. Sometimes I use italics to show the definition of a phrase in English after it is said by a character in another language.

Example: “Dakan avituvey!” For freedom!

Or, if you like to show more than tell, then imply the meaning of the word or phrase with the actions and dialogue of characters.

4. Make sure you can pronounce it, and ensure it sounds like something your characters would say. Don’t make a word with so many consonants or vowels that it looks like a hungry monster on the page. Readers will skip what they can’t comprehend. Make sure you know the limits of your created language.

5. Be consistent with the arrangement of statements, questions, possessives, plurals, and conjunctions. How will you handle them? Keep a cheat sheet handy.

6. Decide how you want your words to connect. In my Xahu’ré language, everything is constructed by association: sua=cruel, sua’o=cold, and Suanoa are the main antagonists. The root is “sua.”

Just put a little thought into the way your words will work together. Linguaphiles and logophiles can look deeper into morphology for sharper language creation.

7. There must be a history of the culture’s existence to form the language. Words draw meaning from objects, events, and trends. Solidify your background information, and the language will come much easier. Word etymology is a good way to learn about where our words came from and might be helpful inspiration for this component.

I thoroughly enjoyed developing my Xahu’ré language. Since Stellar Fusion, I have created words in three new languages that I hope to build upon in future books. Besides enhancing culture and character in stories, new languages can be fun when chatting with friends and fans!

Thanks for reading! I wish you all the best on your creative journey!

-Elysia Lumen Strife-


Adopted by two educators, Strife developed a deep love for learning new things. In 2012, she graduated from Oregon State University with two Bachelor’s Degrees in Public Health and Human Sciences: Interior Design and Exercise Sport Science. Her past wears fatigues, suits, and fitness gear, sprinkled with mascara and lace.

“I like to question everything, figure out how things work, and do tasks myself. Experiencing new things is fun but also helps with writing raw and genuine stories. And I’m always trying to push my comfort zones.”

Strife likes the rumble of her project car’s 350-ci V8. She enjoys the rush of snowboarding and riding ATVs on the dunes. But nothing brings her more solace than camping in the mountains where the stars are their brightest.

Strife enjoys connecting with readers and welcomes all feedback and questions.

website & Social Links

Website  → www.elstrife.com

Twitter  → http://twitter.com/ElysiaLStrife

Facebook  http://www.facebook.comauthorelstrife


Author: E.L. Strife
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 330
Genre: Scifi/Fantasy

This isn’t the first invasion. This time, they’re taking everything… and everyone.
Earth, still patching itself together from the 300 Years War, is severely unprepared and outnumbered when the invasion hits. Their only hope is a small team of soldiers on a suicide mission to infiltrate the mothership and relay critical defense information home.

The last survivor of the first encounter can’t explain why she knows what she does. Sergeant Nakio Atana is the Universal Protectors’ elite assassin and holds within a spark of unimaginable power. But a daring escape from an enemy ship knocked the first fifteen years of her life into darkness, leaving her with only inexplicable apathy and technical knowledge beyond Earth’s evolution.

What she is can change their future.

Sergeant Bennett must guard her with his life.

Together, Atana and Bennett lead the team in hopes her knowledge, and his crew’s skills, will render them a soft spot in the alien armor. What they find when they reach the mothership is entirely unexpected. The truth they uncover will challenge the code they live by and their concepts of the power within.

“Stellar Fusion is the work of a new aspiring writer with a penchant for exploring possibilities of future life for humankind. Good versus evil, loyalty, truth, integrity, and the power of strength, love, and hope are all masterfully interwoven into this inaugural novel by E.L. Strife. With the age-old theme of making the world a better place, Strife casts her characters in the spotlight as they embrace survival on the planet. Stellar Fusion offers readers an opportunity to look to the future and reflect on what is most important to ensure the happiness, success, and survival of the human race.”
-Amazon Customer

“Great book. Would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fast-paced sci-fi action with moments that slow to profoundly grab your heart and draw you into the characters’ lives. Looking forward to reading book 2 when it’s released.”
-Amazon Customer

Order Your Copy

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2PfzdPQ


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