So Tolkien was a linguist. In his works (of which there were many) he had developed specialized and peculiar languages to integrate into his world.
Holy shit right? That’s just Elvish, one language, and a brief example of it. A lot of different mediums have now attempted to do the same. For example, Klingon in Star Trek.
Wookiee in Star Wars.
Okay, maybe Wookiee doesn’t count, but who are you to judge? My point here is that some writers have a natural gift for the complexities of linguistics. Other’s, not so much. If you’re an author that is writing about a Sci-Fi or Fantasy setting I think it’s important to know which side of the fence you’re on. You don’t NEED language to make an engaging story, often times by inserting complex and unfamiliar phrases will detract from your tale. If you’re someone that genuinely enjoys creating linguistics (like Tolkien) then you may be able to organically incorporate it into your story successfully.
I bring it up because I think that a lot of writers are intimidated by the success of well known Sci-Fi and Fantasy authors that have some type of linguistic offering. The good news is, you shouldn’t be. An authors job is to tell a story, not invent a new language.
In my personal opinion I think that it IS important to include some type of slang. Something about your world(s) that differs from ours and is used in an organic and simple way. If you write a Fantasy that isn’t based on Earth, don’t ever mention the word Earth. Unless they knew about the planet they wouldn’t define something based on it right? The ground would be dirt, rock, soil, or the name of the planet that they’re on. It wouldn’t be referred to as Earth.
Make sure that people speak in a way that makes sense to your universe, not everyone else’s. What I mean by that is have phrases, profanities, cultures that aren’t defined by Earth Standards. This doesn’t mean you need to completely break the mold, you don’t want to confuse your readers, but make a couple of minor adjustments and you sell the reality of your world. Instead of a character saying ‘Damn it’ maybe they say ‘Zarquon’. I don’t know why I chose Zarquon, it’s what my fingers picked at this very moment.
It’s important that you differentiate your world from others, especially Earth. As long as your tale is based around Earth. It’s not important to completely invent (or reinvent) when it’s not your specialty or prerogative. You can make a perfectly good piece of literature without having to resort to Tolkien-esque Linguistic Creation. Take solace in that.
Tell me how you feel about Fantasy and Sci-Fi languages. Do they intimidate you, bore you, excite you? What are some of your favorites, or least favorites? The Comment’s are waiting.
Did the clickbait work? Good! You might learn something here about Dungeons and Dragons, but it’s more conceptual. See, it’s about my experience with it, not a catch all. I have no secrets about how to make the most powerful character that ever ever’d. I have friends that do though. (You Know Who You Are).
Instead I’d like to talk about my first couple of experiences at the Tabletop. I’m not a big MMO fan
I know, I know. Take away my Nerd/Geek/Virgin Forever card. I love Rpg’s though. Tabletop and Final Fantasy 7 is where I cut my teeth.
But we’re not here to talk about the greatest game ever made. If you don’t agree with that-
Instead we’re here to talk about the greatest table top game ever made. Again if you don’t agree-
My first game of Dungeon’s and Dragons, which will now be referred to as D&D, was a 1st edition game hosted by a sadist DM. My best friend and I decided to both play Half-Orc Clerics. Yeah, you heard that right.
Then we promptly got our asses handed to us by zombies. A real spit in the eye as we were Clerics.
We were so upset by the whole ordeal that we swore off D&D for quite some time. Admittedly we were quite young at the time and very sore losers.
When we picked it back up we were much more familiar with the rule set and weren’t playing with the Sadist DM. We loved him, but he thought that Chaotic Evil Barbarians were the best thing in the world.
My experiences in D&D and the fun I had playing through and inventing new worlds with multiple types of characters was the passion behind The Tarthurian Chronicles. One of the best games I ever played was the reason for S&M in Tarthuria (I’m still looking for a free artist by the way).
D&D fostered a ton of imagination and I spent countless hours rolling dice, writing, erasing, writing, erasing, and so forth. Some of our DM’s loved combat, some of our DM’s love role playing, I enjoyed a little bit of side A and side B. As a DM myself I was a little intense but tried to maintain a balance.
Don’t laugh, my first few games as an inexperienced DM I totally did that. Some of my friends will never forgive me. (You Know Who You Are).
I’ll tell you more about my Fantastical Dungeon’s and Dragon’s adventures on more Friday Fantasy! Tell me in the Comment’s below what your favorite RPG’s are video game, card, or tabletop and why I’m wrong about mine!
For the record, there are little to no circumstances in which a Dragon loses. So if you are writing a novel incorporating Dragons, give them the respect they deserve.
I LOVE fantasy. That’s why I write it. Maybe someday I’ll branch out of the genre but not anytime soon. I have the entire Tarthurian Chronicles to write first. Little known fact, Sci-Fi was once the classification for Fantasy novels. Several older people still refer to Fantasy novels and movies as Sci-Fi. Weird right? I’m sure that while watching The Lord of the Rings you were just waiting for a spaceship to appear.
Now that’s not to say that it can’t be done. In fact there are several incarnations of Fantasy meets Sci-Fi that work very well. I’m sure that none of you have ever heard about it before so let me introduce you to an excellent Sci-Fi Fantasy Series.
Some may argue that I am incorrect because it’s SO Sci-Fi-esque. Ask yourself, are Star Trek and Star Wars the same genre? If you said yes…
Seeing as those are two dearly beloved franchises I will leave my opinion there, I have no intention of starting a Star Wars vs Star Trek flame war. (By the way, they’re both good series).
Back to Fantasy. There are two types of Fantasy classifications in the world of novels that are generally accepted. There are several more, but they like to break it down to-
High Fantasy (also known as Epic Fantasy)
A world of the author’s own creation, usually with it’s own set of rules, laws, and physics.
See Lord of the Rings
Incorporating several different types of races that either live cohesively or in animosity toward one another.
See Lord of the Rings (it’s one of the most popular fantasy settings of all time, it deserves two spots on an example list.)
Gratuitous use of magic
See The Discworld Series
Thematically it focuses on the world as a whole as opposed to a small section
See Game of Thrones
Low Fantasy (also known as Contemporary Fantasy)
Have a more realistic setting, if not being simply placed on Earth in a different time period
See The Dark Tower Series
Focus on a core group of characters doing small things
See The Hobbit (But Dylan…wait…I’ll explain more later.)
Magic is limited to but a few characters if it exists at all
See King Arthur
Focus on human’s, maybe no other races even exist.
See King Arthur (Please reference Lord of the Rings in High Fantasy if you’re upset with two of the same examples)
What many people don’t know is that Fantasy sub-genre’s were created by Role Playing Games. Huh. I think that great authors start small and get bigger. The Hobbit is an example of a Low Fantasy and the Lord of the Rings is a High Fantasy. As characters grow so do worlds. As worlds grow so do conflicts. There is nothing wrong with having a little bit of both to lean on.
Generally speaking though I think that all Fantasy should be classified as itself and respected. If you’re not willing to give High a chance because you don’t like reading about magic that just means you haven’t found an author that convey’s magic to you in an excellent way. If you don’t like Low because it’s too similar to our world, that just means you haven’t found an author yet that makes our world more complex.
There is a lot to talk about with Fantasy but we have years to do it. Tell me in the Comments what some of your favorite Fantasy novels or movies are. Unknown or Well known, each to their own, there is no judgment here.
Here is a brief fantasy story for you –
The Majestic Sky King’s knew they were in for a battle, a dragon was nothing to mess around with. This particular one, an uncommon shade of black with silver tipped scales was fierce. In just a few brief days is brought the Wromelon Kingdom to it’s knees. The Sky King’s were the Kingdom’s last hope. Being the toughest bunch of mercenaries around they were paid well to do the job. They were also the only mercenaries in the land with an airship invented by their Captain and leader Mohem Skyking.
It was time to tackle the beast face to face. They floated before it, armed to the teeth with ballista’s, crossbow’s, and javelins. What they forgot was that Dragon’s were king of the sky. It swooped at them and ejected fire from it’s glistening throat. The airship burned, since it was made of wood and cloth, and fell to the ground a fiery wreck. The Sky King’s were no more. Because Dragon’s don’t lose.