Thursday, August 13, 2009

Not Using the Same Words Ad Nauseum

Moonlit is, at its heart, a werewolf story. That is a slang term in the book, they generally prefer to be called lycanthropes. In reality, these were pretty much the only two words I could think of to describe the infected in the story. As I write the chapters, I quickly begin to realize that I am using those two words a little too much. They were beginning to get on my own nerves.

I started looking for other words that mean 'werewolf.' I found two more: wolfman, and loup-garou. The former is only applicable if the infected person is a male, which is about half the werewolves I have stuck in my head. The latter is a strange, French word that I would have to describe before using. There have to be more, better words to describe the villains in my story. So, I sat there and thought for a while.

Werewolf was designated in the story as pretty much a dirty, derogatory word. Hmm. What other words or phrases could be used to describe a werewolf that would be a little less unsavory than 'werewolf?' Coming up with terms is fairly easy. Coming up with terms that my characters would actually use was the tricky part.

Take Ranulf, for instance. He has worked as a werewolf hunter for years. He knows what they look like, their habits, which buttons to press. What would he call the perps he follows every day? The terms sasquatch, fleabag, woofer, and, oddly enough, squirrel monkey seem to top the list. Lyka, on the other hand, is a wildlife biologist and a bit of a bleeding heart. She would probably stick to Hensenites, lycanthropes, and the infected. Dolph is a leader, but a bit of a rough one. He would probably pick a name to go along with a secondary trait. Like calling a werewolf attorney a shaggy D.A.

I don't know exactly which ones will be sticking to the story, as I am still in the process of writing it. I do know, however, that I really like the idea of creating names for werewolves based more on the temperments and personalities of my cadre of characters than on mythology and old movies.


  1. You make an interesting point about the name someone uses being based upon their temperment or character. That is something I hadn't thought of explicitly before, though I think I have made use of that fact implicitly quite often.

    I think this idea goes further than just the language used by the character, but also the language used in general when you are writing from a particular character's POV. i.e. An action oriented character might "sieze upon an idea", whereas a more passive character might have "something occurred to" them.

  2. Well, as I have told you guys many times, my mother is an English professor, and one of her degrees is in linguistics. As such we had tons of name books in our house. I learned pretty quickly that a name that literally describes the character is pretty cool. Not everyone will pick up on it, but those that do will find a hidden layer of depth for the characters they hopefully love.