Eep! I’m cutting it really close with the timing of this post. Only 3 hours left of Friday!
Nobility have them: baronets, barons, earls, dukes. So does the military: privates, corporals, sergeants, lieutenants and so on. All institutions have hierarchies. We grade gemstones and hurricanes, ski slopes and rockfaces, stars and planetary bodies. Part of being human is the insatiable desire to name, sort, classify and rank.
Why should your black-ops military group or magic order be any different? Perhaps you have a far-future military whose various types of battleships need classifying. Or you need to come up with houses for your boarding school, or breed names for the griffins that your protagonist raises.
This week’s fun is to come up with cool names for whatever it is you’re ranking. For one of my short stories, I named my ship types after birds: eagles, gulls, kestrels. My one magic ship was known as a raven. While David was working on his book Storm Rider, we brainstormed animal names for the various intensities of different types of storms (for example, the sandstorms increased in rage and vigor from scorpion, to tarantula, to asp, to cobra, and finally, phoenix). Why settle for Cat 3 and Very Bad when you can be more creative?
Tia Nevitt says
Ooh, I love ranks. For Forging a Legend, I came up with deity ranks – god, demi-god and champion. Probably not all that original, but it worked for me and when I tried to add more ranks in there, it was too confusing. I also made a system of coinage based on Merry England’s old system–it doesn’t fit neatly into a decimal system and is cumbersome to use.
In A Spy and a Lady, I have spy agencies ranked (Bronze Corps, Silver Corps, Gold Corps and Starcaster Corps), plus there are ranks of individuals, but it’s not really overt in the story.
Even if a writer doesn’t go into great detail about the various ranks and who gets to which rank when and how, I like the suggestion that they have done all that work. It gives the world more depth, and strengthens the illusion of reality, when as a reader I feel that the writer has planned out more of the world than is apparent in the story.
(Okay, two of those sentences came out very convoluted, but it is close to midnight and I am tired. They’ll have to do.)