View Full Version : Question, on word choice

08-07-2016, 11:28 AM
I posted the first three sentences of my novel for critiquing on the "novel" thread, I believe.
I got quite a bit of positive feedback, however I thought I would ask some opinions before I change the whole premise of the novel based of of a couple pieces of feedback.
At the beginning of my book, my protag is wondering why she's alive.

The next sentences explain that she's now in exile and that she was always under the impression that the exiled died.

I'm wondering about the word exile. In the protags world, if you are exiled.... that's it...its the end. No one in society will utter your name again. So, growing up, this girl assumed these people actually died. Now, she's finding out they were just shoved aside and forgotten.

So, does anybody have a better word than exile, or exiled?

08-07-2016, 12:20 PM

08-07-2016, 12:23 PM
You could go back a couple of millenia. Shunning is an age-old practice, and the Romans could shun people so hard their name were removed from stone inscriptions and their statues were pulled down. That was the sentence known as Damnatia Memoriae, the condemnation of your memory. I can't remember if the punishment included death - given the nature of the Romans, probably, but it doesn't have to.

Taking that as the root, maybe these miscreants could be known as the Condemned, which has a suitably final ring to it, or the Damned, which could also do the job?

be frank
08-07-2016, 12:26 PM
I haven't had a chance to check out 3-sentences today, but from your description in the OP above, I suspect you may be better served by a word that could be taken to mean either "sent away" or "killed" -- because "exiled" only really means one thing ("banished"), so it's unclear why she'd think that would mean "died".

A couple off the top of my head: the discarded, the dispatched, the eradicated...

08-07-2016, 01:07 PM
The Proscribed?

08-07-2016, 01:14 PM
Sounds a little like Logan's Run. Or shunning in the Amish community.

It could be hard to make "exile" work because it has a specific meaning which isn't the meaning that you want to convey. Instead I would look for a more neutral word or phrase that you could add meaning to.

The choice of word could depend on the society's attitude to people who have been "exiled". If it is seen as a bad thing, then they might choose a word which had an element of condemnation in it. We might play with something like "outcast". On the other hand, if the society wanted to be coy they might use a euphemism such as "passed".

Or they might refuse to talk about them which could get us into ideas like "the nameless".

Or invent a name that has no meaning like Ronin - masterless samurai.

Either way, I would look for the concept of "exiling" to be consistent with other elements in your world. It ought to fit with other naming conventions and the attitude that this society has to its people. I wouldn't just pluck a name out of the air because it sounds cool.

Develop the rest of the world and you may find that the name you need falls out logically as an extension to everything else that is going on.

08-07-2016, 01:47 PM
In Orwell's 1984 , people disappear and any record of their existence is deleted . There is some suggestion that some my still exist , but the Idea of being deleted sounds sinister .

08-07-2016, 02:28 PM
Disappeared of course has real-world connotations (Pinochet's Chile).

08-08-2016, 05:39 AM
Thank you guys for your suggestions.
I may have to start a list and decide which feels the best.
I'm loving the roman comdemnation of your memory. The codemned, which fits in with the people not helping themselves. But I also love the concept of the nameless....I'll have to play around with this.

Brian G Turner
10-30-2016, 09:11 PM
So, does anybody have a better word than exile, or exiled?

What you've mentioned would be perfectly applicable in the ancient world. If that's what you're going for, I don't see a problem.

10-30-2016, 09:25 PM