1. Use the language in small amounts
Don't write massive paragraphs in your made up language. This, unfortunately, is one issue I have with the fantasy novel, Eragon. While reading such long paragraphs, which use words that don't mean anything to me, I find myself distracted by trying to pronounce the words in my mind. Often, the meaning of the paragraph is not fully explained and then do not benefit the story at all. If you believe your new language must be used, then only use it in short sentences or even single words. By doing this, the reader is still able to concentrate on the context within the story.
If you have a character, speaking in your new language, who must talk for a period of time, then write in English and explain. For example, '"May you always find happiness and peace when it seems there is none," Trallen said in the magical, ancient language.'
2. Make sure the words are pronounceable
If you can't speak the words without conscious effort then don't bother putting them down on paper. The reader will only get distracted and frustrated by these words and will be distracted from your story. If the point of the language is that it is unpronounceable by 'normal' people then perhaps it would be better to describe why it is so, perhaps explaining how it sounds (eg. 'The language used by the creatures sounded like a mixture of grunts and groans').
3. Explain the meaning often
Whenever you use a new word from your language make sure you explain its meaning. What is the point in using a fantasy language if your readers don't understand what is being said? Always give the meaning straight after or, as I said in point 1, perhaps merely write in English and explain that the character is speaking in your fantasy language. Another option is to write everything in your new language in italics, this way the reader will come to know that italics mean it's spoken in this language.
It may also become necessary to include a glossary at the back of your novel giving the meanings of words you have revealed.
When planning a new, fantasy language you must determine whether the language will benefit the story. Quite often it merely makes it difficult to read, confuses the reader, and causes unnecessary frustration. Of course, when used correctly, fantasy languages can add another layer of depth to your story and make it a more fulfilling read.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of pakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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