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How do you handle clashing styles?


I've been trying to get feedback from readers for my novel but it's been hard. I either get a simple "oh wow everything you did was great" or "I have this feedback... but I only read like 10 pages". I know all feedback is valid, but sometimes its hard to pull out what is going to make your novel better.

One bit of feedback I got recently was that the person thought "it was a little weird to have a fantasy setting with fantasy-esque names for towns, and then have normal names for characters". I gave it a thought for a second and thought it was a valid point: I tend to like non-traditional names for setting, modern first names, and non-traditional and varied last names.

But... is that a bad thing? If I'm consistent with that throughout, will the reader acclimate to my style and accept it, will they simply stop reading, or will it be something they forever don't enjoy?

How do you handle it when your style has a quirk, or you like "clashing" styles?


Myth Weaver
I don't know if I would acclimate or not. I guess I'd have to read it. I am one who is likely to notice, and might make a comment about the cultural disconnect.

I think I would handle it along the lines of, there are millions of readers out there, and most of them wont read or wont like my stuff. But I only need to get some of them, and it will all be worthwhile.

It would matter to me, though, if people I respected were telling me to change. I am not sure if I would, but I would greatly consider it.


Myth Weaver
Also, even in a writing group, getting feedback on an entire novel is difficult, cause its an investment in the entire thing. Not saying people are not generous, by reviewing is actually a lot of work and energy. You might get the best results if you get a group where you and they exchange reviews. You review them and they review you. Cause people with finished books are all kind of in the same boat. Its not so hard to get someone to dip their toes in, but to commit to the whole story, I either have to really like it, or really like you. I think I would start by asking if anyone would like to exchange reviewing stories and see if that works out.


Place names and people's names are obviously related to the culture or language of the inhabitants. They should have similarities. IF I go to a town in Russia or Germany I would expect most of the inhabitants would have names traditionally from that culture. If I was in a town in Italy and everyone was named Bob, Frank, George of Belazabub or Beetlejuice, or is Bob, Frank and George were the names of everyone living in Vladivostok or Jakarta, I would find it quite jarring and think something weird is going on.

If your quirk is jarring to the readers, and serves no rational purpose, get rid of it. IF there is a reason that makes it such that you cannot live without it, explain the reasoning to the readers somehow.

But if it just some preference you have, I would suggest that is not a good enough reason to refuse to tame it.

As an aside, that is a pretty good observation from that beta reader. I would keep them on the roster!
How do you handle it when your style has a quirk, or you like "clashing" styles?

This issue seems to include questions about reader expectations, genre conventions, artistic license (a term I kinda hate, although from a different angle I like it), and artistic freedom. And there are no easy answers, heh.

For myself personally, I wouldn't think of this so much in terms of clashing, but of mixing or creating compounds–creating new combinations which, yes, might be somewhat unconventional and a symptom of artistic freedom, a personal style, but one built without ignoring reader expectation and genre conventions altogether. I have a fairly powerful superego, so any creative impulse instantly has a dancing partner; but which leads the dance, the superego spouting these conventions at me or the equally powerful creative id? My ego gets to sort all that out but never quite eliminates either of the other two.

You have to do what you want to do. But maybe you want others to want the things you produce, heh. So maybe the conflict comes down to deciding what's most important to you personally and whether some things aren't all that important after all. I'm typically not incredibly unconventional, but I find that whatever oddities of style I keep are things that are important to me, for whatever reason, and I try to sell them, or make them work for others. You can't please all people all the time, but maybe you can do quirky well. It's a learning process.


Aye it is probably fine as long as the culture or cultures in your novel each have a theme to them. It does not have to be spelled out or anything as long as it is just implied that there are themes present. I can look past a lot and i realize how hard it is to pull it off and so for me there is a certain level of forgiveness involved as long as the writer at least attempts to be creative with their city and name structure. I read fantasy / high fantasy to be immersed in another world. If your novel takes place in our world in ancient times your work is already done. But if you attempt high fantasy you really need to take it all the way to the hilt.

The truth is that you will never please everyone and there are many fantasy snobs out there that will call you out for it and there are others who may be generally new to fantasy that will not know the difference. It really depends on the audience you are shooting for that really matters. If you are happy with your naming system then keep writing. If not then I would suggest researching ancient cultures and seeing how they named things or their people.

Behind the name:
Behind the Name: Ancient Names

Wiki list of the longest inhabited cities of the world:
List of oldest continuously inhabited cities - Wikipedia

Eric Hawke

If all the characters in a fantasy story had normal names, that would probably bug me regardless of the naming of the places, simply because I'm not used to it. Then again, first person POV in fantasy bugged me for a while, but it worked out eventually.


For me, having fantasy names in a fantasy story deepens my immersion into that fantastical place. It makes it more interesting and real.