As I have been working on my new book, I’ve run into questions that probably should have been considered in my first novel.
Whoops! Live and learn. 😛
This quandary, as is almost always the case, revolves around grammar. I am not even the red-headed stepchild of a c-rated grammatician, so often find myself struggling to bring my writing into proper form. This time around the writer’s block, I was pondering capitalization.
Pretty sure that I couldn’t be the only fantasy writer struggling with when to (or not to) capitalize names of species or races, I looked for help.
All those readers out there lifting grammar-sharpened noses to avoid the waft of my inadequacies, pinch that honker and try to be understanding–writing fantasy (or sci-fi) presents some out-of-the-norm challenges.
As all of the curious are wont to do, I turned to my trusty search engine.
The result? A rather interesting article that can get a bit heavy and convoluted toward its center, but pulls out nicely in the end.
“Capitalization of Fantasy Race Names,” by Mark William Chase helped sort me out.
In a nut shell, he came to this conclusion:
“Can the people of the race/species be identified as having a common cultural heritage, language, religion (or set of beliefs), or general ideology, that uniquely distinguishing them as a group?” If the answer is yes, their name should be capitalized as it is with Visigoth or Celt. If the answer is no, then they are not a distinct cultural group and their name should be lower cased. This is why elf, in general fantasy terms as well as in mythology, is lower cased, while Elf is capitalized in fantasy works such as Lord of the Rings where the Elves do have a common cultural heritage.”
-Mark William Chase
Capitalization of Fantasy Race Names
As language is a continuously transmogrifying monster that gobbles the woulds and shoulds of our oral and written traditions without even the courtesy of chewing with its mouth closed, everyone has a right to their own opinions, so I leave it to you to decide whether or not this is a viable policy.
For me, it works. So, my mengens will be lower cased, my Eidolons capitalized, and the poor humans will not even know they are being slighted.
the comma-deaf waif wishing she had a clue