Today’s post is brought to you by the letter F.
F stands for Remodeling.
I received this curious envelope in the mail the other day:
I wasn’t expecting a letter. And who’s it from? Hmm. Let’s see what’s inside.
O.K., a pretty standard ad flyer for cable Internet. But why was it addressed by hand? They send out thousands of these things. And why in an unheaded envelope?
Oh, wait, what’s that written at the top?
We just added the Internet at our place. We never knew the Internet could be so interesting – and so fast! Thought you would be interested.
Well, then. Who, indeed, could have possibly known that the Internet was interesting? Who would suspect that there would be anything of note within the largest collection of information and widest array of communication that has ever existed on this planet? And it’s fast, you say? Then I sure am glad you just now added it at your place, M, and that you realized that I would be interested that the Internet is interesting.
This is one of the more harebrained (not to mention a little creepy) marketing campaigns I’ve seen from a large corporation, lately. Note how they think they’re being extra clever by omitting a return address and just using an initial (because it must certainly be from that person I know whose name starts with ‘M’) – real people always send things to their friends and family as close to anonymously as possible, right?
I think it’s the bizarre sloppiness that strikes me the most, though. They go through the effort of hand-addressing these and passing them off as coming from an individual, but that’s the message they choose? The Internet is interesting? I mean, it would be no simple task to convincingly convey why clandestinely forwarding an ad flyer through the post would be anyone’s means of broaching the subject of Internet acquisition with a friend, but I would expect something a little more creative than this bland, generic nonsense – that’s what the rest of the page is for!
Also, I kind of don’t live in Illinois.
But, on the other hand, this amused me enough to share it, so I guess their advertising dollars aren’t completely going to waste. (>^-‘)>
A while back, I talked a bit about what you might consider when naming characters, and today I thought I would follow up by expounding specifically on the topic of pulling words out of your—well, making them up.
When concocting names for characters, places, or objects, we tend to favor certain sounds. Where we gravitate is mostly informed by the language(s) we speak, and what we’ve come to associate with pre-established words and names. Certain phonemes build specific impressions in our minds, and we rely on this context to put together fitting verbal symbols for whatever we’re assigning them to. Whether or not this is typically done on a conscious level, identifying and mapping out your preferences (both general and circumstantial) can be a useful endeavor.
For instance, my general letter palette would look like this:
|A C D E I K L M N R S T||J O Q V X Y Z||B F G H P U W|
The first column represents what I feel are the most benign letters, and I use them fairly indiscriminately. The second contains letters that I like at certain times, but aren’t as ubiquitously usable. The third holds the letters that I tend to avoid. When my intent is to give a name a rough or unpleasant edge, however, these preferences easily operate in reverse. The initial and terminal letters of the word will be particularly prone to these guidelines.
Now, this chart is pretty simplistic, containing only letters from the English Roman alphabet and not taking digraphs into account, but you get the idea. I’m calling it a letter palette (as opposed to a simply phonetic one) because visual aesthetics are also a consideration – sounds can often be written a number of ways, and their appeal can be tweaked as such.
Making a general purpose palette for yourself can be an enlightening exercise, but they become particularly handy when tailored for specific sets. If, for your story, you need to create a distinct culture with its associated terminology and members’ names, planning out a letter palette for it can help you quicken the process while maintaining a consistent feel.
So, do you find yourself with particular letter preferences? Could you define your own general palette?