Musing: Notoriety vs. Fame

While out driving I saw a sign that made me smile.   It also inspired today’s post.  A large well made marquee along the roadside heralded a Chinese restaurant.

“Chinese food that’s different.”

Now this is a classic case of ‘Engrish’ but it also carries an interesting meaning when applied to fiction.  Notoriety is a very different bird than fame.  It is an aspect I really like to bottle when I write quirky characters.

When you have a talented character, other people are sure to notice.   A certain degree of implied skill is acceptable but any writer worth their salt knows it’s better to show the reader than  inform them of their abilities.   In some light, notoriety carries more weight than fame, because of its negative connotation.

Zammela Glemeis (the young lade you see in the background on the right of this blog article) is one of those characters.   She has a reputation, but it is important to note that notoriety is a better used word than fame.

When I saw that sign on the side of the road it made me think of the loaded explanations often used to describe Zammela.   One of them being Zam the Remarkable.   While the word ‘remarkable’ can be taken as a positive, it is among the words that people say after a moment of consideration.   Other words such as amazing, or incredible often denote heroism or  an infallible sort of reverence.

This sort of word play is important to the story, as she considers herself a Magician Extraordinaire.   In Geldbane, and the world of Pange in general, magician is a term that is synonymous with a con artist.  Everyone in the nation is capable of wielding Fire and Water magic to some degree, so one that makes a living from it comes across as dishonest.

Beyond that there are those that are accomplished at magic, witches and wizards, that sacrifice a part of themselves to improve their craft.  Zam’s deliberate use of the term Magician Extraordinaire is a defiance that she is not that, but something ‘different’.

I aim to write notorious characters rather than famous ones.   It strikes me as much more interesting when people are just as likely to take a few steps away as they would step towards: a volatile blend of appeal and repulsion.


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