Pharmacists are Tolkein Wannabes

Monday, April 5, 2010

I guess this is a sort of continuation on the post about choosing names for characters in novels.

After looking through some labels on recent prescriptions I'm convinced that whoever picks the names for these things is a total LoTR freak. Somewhere in their closets or attics or basements, there have to be old textbooks with full scale models of Osgiliath and The Shire, not to mention notebooks full of cyphers written in fluent elvish.

What's worse, after reading queries and "pitch lines" for a few books that are out there on the Query-go-Round, I'm finding it hard to remember which 13-character string of impossible to pronounce letters are medicinal and which ones are fantasy characters who should hate their parents. Take a random list of names from a drug store inventory and compare it to some of the things people put out there for their characters' monikers and you'll see what I mean.

Avandia was too sweet for her own good, thus she was smitten (smoten, smited, smot... whatever) with high glucose. The condition became a blight on the fair land of Rosiglitazone.

Celexor and Desyrel (twins, don't'cha know) live in the Dulldrums, and so are always more than a little blue. Their friend Gabapentin turns into their worst enemy, the evil Norvasc and it's up to them to find what's making him switch from one to the other.

And finally, we come to the land of Halcion, where life is a beautiful dream. Ambien rules there as the benevolent queen who brings her subjects whatever their minds can conjure.

Sounds a bit over the top, right?

I wish.

For the love of hobbits, people, if you're writing fantasy, it doesn't mean that you can't name your hero/heroine (or especially your villain) something a five year old can say without slurring. (If your mama called you Brtchighlin the Malformed, you'd be pretty nasty yourself.)

Stop it!

Stop torturing your characters, your readers, and any actor who might someday have to actually try and pronounce the words on your pages. Go buy vowel or two, and escort your characters down to the county courthouse where they can fill out the proper paperwork for a name change.

If you need something unusual, then minimize the syllable count. PLEASE... yes, this is me begging. Lem works fine for a strange name. His name can be Whotosizlem the Magnificent for all I care, but when you mention him in the book, take pity and call him Lem. Or better yet, go for less used names people have actually heard of -- try Naomi. Lots of vowels in that one, and people know how it's supposed to sound.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go raid the medicine cabinet for a nice antacid/evil overlord with intestinal issues.

7 Chiming In:

M.R.J. Le Blanc said...

I totally agree. I love using different and unusual names in my stories, but I always try to sound them out to see if they 'flow'. If they're a mouthful I move on. Wish others would do the same though.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Ditto! Unusual names that are easy to say and remember are the best. I'm so happy I found your blog. :)

Stephanie Thornton said...

I'm kind of restricted to actual names from ancient Egypt. Some of them are quite a mouthful!

BTW- I left an award for you on my blog!

Josin L. McQuein said...

Thanks, Stephanie! (And you're excused from my rant against weird names. Egyptology trumps convenience, especially in the name of a lady-Pharaoh.)

:-)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I just popped over from Stephanie's blog to say hello and congratulate you on your award. Awesome post! :-)

Debra Driza said...

Lol, great post--you totally made the drug names sound believable as characters!

And lmao at your comment on my blog--I write that WIP in out-of-order chunks, and I think that's like the third name I have for that particular character. So there's at least a 66.6667% chance it will end up as something else! :D That's too funny!

Krista V. said...

Amen, sister:)

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