Fictitious Terms and Exotic Proper Names

At the end of Storycraft for Comics I talk about nomenclature for a few pages.

One of the things I discuss, is a problem I see often in original universe settings (usually in fantasy and sci-fi)—the oversaturation of Fictitious Terms and Exotic Proper Names.

For example:
BILBO “The GRUN will flow freely tonight.”
GOBLIN “Perhaps. But you’ll never get your hands on it!”

What the hell is Grun? Alcohol? Blood? Mana? Tomato sauce? Beats me…

Of course, you don’t want to stop and define every unique term in your script. (Always enter late and leave early)… and unique nomenclature can add flavor, tone, style and mood to any script.

The key point is to stay objective and pay attention to how much your using. Don’t oversaturate the script. This is especially important early on in the story, where this kind of oversaturation can turn a potential reader off from buying the comic.

Everyone’s read a book and come across a word they didn’t know. Most of the time, you pull the context from surrounding words and just keep reading. No harm no foul. But if the surrounding words contain too many other words you don’t know, you’re lost.

And that’s the point of oversaturation—don’t let Fictitious terms and Exotic Proper Names dominate your writing to the point where readers will be confused if they don’t know the terms.

When I’m editing long prose I often flag repeated pronoun usage or make note when the writer keeps referring to the MC by his/her proper name.

He did this, he did that, he, he, he OR Bilbo did this, Bilbo did that, Bilbo, Bilbo, Bilbo… Reader’s generally like some balance.

Bilbo did this. He then did that. The hobbit knew the dire wolves were close behind…etc. Mixing it up is more engaging and the same concept can be applied to helping you with saturation concerns with your fictitious terms and exotic names.

Depending on the usage of the word in question of course, try mixing it up, if GRUN is Ale. Throw in a couple of times when the MC calls it the latter instead of the former. Or define (contrast) the word by having one character always call it Ale while everyone else calls it Grun.

BILBO “I feel sick to my stomach, the last thing I need is a swig of ale.”
GOBLIN “Hairy footed slacker, can’t hold your Grun eh?”

Of course “Grun” by itself would hardly be oversaturation… but consider the following:

“We’ve been waiting too many blasted hours and we’re almost outta Grun. If the King’s Penyons intend on breaking the treaty, we’re sunk. It’ll be off to the Hellmeyre for the lot of us. And the Dark Scars don’t like to share. If you ask me, our only chance is three recks of Silverlight. But what are the odds of finding a merchant before the Obliss?” ▪

About the Author —
Nick Macari is a full-time freelance story consultant, developmental editor and writer, working primarily in the independent gaming and comic markets. His first published comic appeared on shelves via Diamond in the late 90’s. Today you can find his comic work on comixology, amazon and in select stores around the U.S.  Visit for social media contacts and news on his latest releases.