Lar Elien – Help Me Choose!

Today, I’m asking you all for help.This problem has been running round and round in my head, and while I know what I prefer, I want to ask for your opinion as fellow authors and readers.

I’ve been getting feedback on my first Lar Elien novel, and one of the things that came up was a quibble about the name “Lar Elien” itself. The commentee didn’t like it because the spelling always reminded her of a misspelled English word, taking her out of the story. That is bad.

Now, that name is as old as the novel, and of course, I was proud of developing it. I wanted it to look a little foreign, with those two syllables. I originally started out with one word, “Larelien”. That looked boring, if you ask me, as it would totally fit German land name conventions (think “Larelia” in English). So I split it. And thus most countries in my world actually are named similarly, with two words. There is a Blan Kara, a Tir Enwen and several others. For that reason, going back to “Larelien” is not an option.

My first question is: What do you think about “Lar Elien”? Does it work as name? Does it feel slightly alien and fantasy-like? How would you pronounce it?

Now, I’ve been using that name for more than ten years in my mind, and of course, I’ve always known how it is pronounced: Lur Elee-en

I’ve been thinking about adding an accent, to make it more clear the second word has two syllables – “Lar Elién” – which would be a little change, and one easily made. But … accents. Accents are a cliche in Fantasy. Another suggestion was “Lar Eliann”, which still keeps the pronunciation similar, but reminds me too much of Ann.

For me, it is very difficult to decide, because the name has become dear to me. Yet as author, I need to keep my audience in mind, and when somebody with a lot of experience says the name grates on her, I want to at least listen.

So my second question is, which would you prefer?

#1 Lar Elien
#2 Lar Elién
#3 Lar Eliann

Thank you for all for comments and your help. It means a lot to me.

About Hannah Steenbock

Hannah Steenbock is an author, dreamer, and coach. She has published several short stories in English and German, as well as one novel in German. In 2013 she started self-publishing her work. In 2014, she has won two awards for her short story "Sequoia".
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13 Responses to Lar Elien – Help Me Choose!

  1. Kirsten says:

    Hallo Hannah,
    mir gefällt der Name so wie er ist. Am Anfang habe ich ihn deutsch ausgesprochen, also Lar Elien mit Betonung auf dem a bei Lar und dem i bei Elien. Das klang aber so gar nicht fantasylike also wechselte ich automatisch zur Betonung auf dem 2. e in Elien, so wie du es mit dem Akzent machen würdest. Blos von Lar auf Lur würde ich so wohl nicht kommen. Aber ich denke grade das ist die Macht der Namen, jeder findet den Namen der für ihn funktioniert. Jeder macht sich doch auch sein eigenes Bild von den Figuren, dein Andert sieht mit Sicherheit ganz anders aus als meiner. Bitte las den Namen so wie er ist, es wird immer jemanden geben, der aufgrund seiner Erfahrungen andere Assoziationen hat. Übriges würde ich mir Tir Enwen aufgrund des Namens wie Schottland vorstellen, weil Tir das gälische Wort für Land ist. Aber deine Beschreibung sieht anders aus und so passt es halt trotzdem.
    Ich hoffe, ich konnte dir damit helfen. Lass uns mal in Ruhe bei einem Tee darüber philosophieren 🙂
    Übrigens warte ich jetzt ganz gespannt auf den zweiten Teil von Anderts Abenteuern, wie soll ich denn jetzt den Rest meines Urlaubs ohne Sturmlied verbringen 🙂
    Liebe Grüße

  2. Liebe Kirsten,
    Lur gilt den englisch-sprachigen Lesern, damit sie nicht “Lär” sagen. Auf Deutsch bleibt es ganz klar bei Lar. 😉
    Danke dir für deine klare Meinung, das ist super! 🙂

  3. Audra says:

    What English word is she confusing it with? It doesn’t bother me at all. I assumed it was pronounced Lar eelee-en or Lar eeleen. I didn’t think about the first part being Lur. I’ve been sitting here racking my brain for an English word it could be confused with and coming up with a blank. I like Lar Elien. I wouldn’t add any accents. Your readers are going to pronounce it however they want to anyway. I had one reader pronounce one of my dragon names Pookie instead of pack-ee. Not sure how she got Pookie out of Paki, but she did none the less.

    • Becky Wilder says:

      Oh my, Audra! Some people just don’t ‘get’ the names writers use in a story……but you would think, Paki is what a person is called who comes from Pakistan….and most people know how to pronounce that. (I love that name for a dragon, to be honest!)

    • Thanks, Audra. Well, I pronounce “Lar” with a long “ah” sound which I tried to get across. I’m sorry if I confused you – phonetics are notoriously difficult to explain. And sorry about Paki’s name getting “changed”. That’s funny!

  4. Becky Wilder says:

    I, personally, like the name, as it is. Like Audra above, The first part of the name, I would not have thought of Lur….pronouncing it Lar (as it’s spelled), but the second half of the name, I actually had right, much to my surprise….lol. I think you should leave it as is….this is YOUR book, YOUR character, and should be what works for you. I imagine that most readers aren’t going to worry about the name. The story should support the charcter, regardless of the name. If one person gets that distracted by one name in an entire book, then perhaps it’s not the type of story that truly appeals to them. Stay with what has worked for YOU for the last 10 years!!!!

    • Becky, thank you, as well. So glad you got the second part right, that’s the one always confusing people. I suppose readers will be readers, and as long as they love the tale, it shouldn’t matter much how they pronounce the names. I was just worried because that one reader had an associaton that never ocurred to me (and I’m the bilingual one!). However, she’s a good pro in proofreading, so yes, I wanted to get some more feedback on this point. Not to vindicate her, just to reassure me. 🙂

  5. Audra says:

    Also, sometimes, you can’t change the name. Many of my characters came to me with their names already known to them. I couldn’t change their names if I tried. The only one who wasn’t sure of his name at first was Mckale and when he figured it out, he let me know. Sometimes, you can’t change things, your story or character won’t let you. Other times, you have to change things because your characters refuse to budge until you do change it. I found tat I actually had very little control over my story once it gained momentum. M characters knew what was going to happen and how it had to happen and any time I tried to deviate from their desired course, they put up a fuss and threw writers block at me.

  6. Audra, that sounds very, very familiar! I’ve had characters change names on me, and others refusing to have their names changed. And there is one character from the second novel who started badgering me until I came up with a story just for him. So that turned out to be novel #6 on my list. I’m not giving him an easy time, though. *insert nasty laugh*

  7. David Meadows says:

    In English, I would pick #1, Lar Elien. English doesn’t use accents (much) so Lar Elién is not only unnecessary but also wouldn’t give most English people a real clue about pronunciation! And I also find the double-n unnecessary. I would pronounce Elian and Eliann exactly the same so what does the extra n add?

    • David, many thanks for your help. Your explanation makes complete sense – as usual. I’m happy to have a really sane opinion based on spelling and pronunciation. Thank you.

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