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Choosing Words

For days, I've been hung up on choosing a single word--an utterly ridiculous-sounding admission.  My only defense is that I haven't yet given myself permission to begin revisions, so I'm not really losing writing time by spinning my wheels.  Um, right?

This word choice thing is something I've run into before, and it comes back to worldbuilding. I tend to like my cultures to default into "consensual sex doesn't need to be restricted."  There are no social/legal problems with enjoying sex.  Partnerships are certainly important, but no formal partnership is needed or expected.  Thus there aren't any illegitimate children.  Inherited stuff goes to whatever man or woman the person designates (Big Deal leadership positions do need approval from the group to be led), though it's customary to give heavy weight to kinship and birth order.

Problem is, I've this character born of inter-tribal relations--which wouldn't be a HUGE problem, other than the fact the man's father is the military leader who conquered his mother's people.  When the man shows up at dad's house--er, palace--and wants to help run the place, people are of course suspicious.

I used "bastard" as a descriptor, but even though that word's secondary meanings are precisely what I want, its primary and assumed meaning implies stuff I don't want in my world.  I started using "mongrel," but that implies it's the inter-tribal relationship that was the problem.

The real problem is the man is "half-enemy."  I didn't have a word for that.  I didn't want to make one up.

So I decided I really, really like the way mongrel sounds--the way it demonstrates the dehumanization of the (my favorite!) character by his detractors--and did this:

He was the mongrel--Maradek's son, yes, but always the enemy's child.

That's it.

When ya can't find the word you want, redefine one that already exists.


May. 24th, 2012 05:07 pm (UTC)
Isn't it wonderful being a writer and designing your own world with its own particular definitions and connotations?
May. 24th, 2012 07:56 pm (UTC)
Wonderful, yes! Sometimes frustrating, also yes. But it's a fun kind of frustration.


Blair MacGregor

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