Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Language of magick.

Okay, so I need some help making a decision.

Early on -- years ago now -- when I was finishing the first draft, I had the idea to incorporate an invented language into my book.

I am one of those geeks that loves the fact that Macbeth has been translated into Klingon, and I become obsessed whenever there is a story that has such real world elements as maps and symbols and words. 

Around the time I was thinking about all this, I was reading the excellent Neal Stephenson trilogy, "The Baroque Cycle" and came across the idea of a philosophical language. This seemed perfect for magick, and so I looked into it a bit. Long story short, I came across a cool and forgotten example called Solresol. Even longer story short, I am now part of a small group who are trying to resurrect the language and modernise it. 

But my question is, would it be cool to include spells in the text?

This is an excerpt from chapter one, where we first see a character cast a spell:

The monster lurched toward him, hissing a challenge, but The Hen held his ground. Waiting until it was so close he could smell its poison, The Hen whispered the spell he had been preparing to speak since landing.

'Solsol soldosol l'a ladosi mire dore domiresi fa la solresol dore 
falafa, re solsol soldosol l'a ladosi mire dore domilado fa la solresol lasi
la dola fa mire dore domilado'


The great four-armed beast froze, its scales turning bright red again as it raised its claws in protection. Then the spell took hold of The Hen's throat as firmly as if the beast itself had caught him. He had tried to prepare himself for the side effects of the magick after his last communication with the monsters, but it was all he could do not to claw at his neck as his Spell of Translation twisted the muscles in his throat. 


I know that's a little messy, and am working on a shorter version of the spell, but you can see what it would generally look like to write in Solresol. (For the observant, Solresol litterally translates into "Language" which is why it appears in the spell of translation.

The other option would be to use the symbolic form of the language, which looks a little like this:



Obviously there are other challenges with this, as it would have to be made into some kind of font for the printers, as well as being impossible for a reader to actually read. 

So anyone care to give some feedback?

In the end it is my publisher that will make the final decision, but I want to know if I should push the issue or not. It could always come later in some kind of online appendix or special edition for the 25th anniversary (once I'm in my log cabin by the beach of course) but it could be cool to put it in now.

There are about 15 spells in the entire book that we would see, and all the rest are much shorter than this example.

T.B



--
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5 comments:

  1. I think it would be cool to include it the way you have in the example you use here.

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  2. Yeah, but how much does it add to the story? I'm worried that it will just be gibberish on the page that readers skip over.

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  3. I love it too. Reminds me of Viking runes. Include a sample early on? (are they ever seen written in a spell book for e.g.?) You could then include the rest in an appendix? Or at least a few key spells. As a reader, I think I would be more interested in the way they sounded when spoken, and the other components of the spell, and the effects. But it would perhaps allude to the richness of your world by including an early example of the symbols?

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  4. Thanks Jeremy. I think it will work better as the phonetic spelling too. I am starting to really like the way they are developing, and reading them in your head starts to sound like you are doing magic.

    I agree though, that we need to see the icons early, to imagine what they look like when it is referred to in the book. I am thinking I can incorporate some text into the map. A border perhaps that at first looks merely decorative, but you then realise it is a phrase spelled in the runes of magick.

    I'll see how I go.

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  5. If you are still interested in Solresol, we have set up a Discord chat room for it.
    Send me a message on Twitter, Reddit, or Sidosi if you need the link.

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