A common problem in fantasy and science fiction stories is drowning the reader in made-up words at the start of the story.
In fantasy, this most often takes the form of a few paragraphs of High Fantasy Names, both of places and people:
It was the seventh day of Rilrak, and Vesnalorm the Mighty, Ess'lor of Nyeang, stood in Yerale Pass by the broad swift-flowing Undh, looking down over Warawe Valley to the golden towers of Soelmwar. "Alas," thought Vesnalorm; "King Dukeko will die this day at the hands of his brother, Lllarod, and his sister, Ightch, and his cousins Nudah and Worler, if my Knights of Banismos do not act quickly."
(In the worst cases, all the English nouns and adjectives are left out: "Vesnalorm, Ess'lor of Nyeang, stood in Yerale by the Undh, looking down over Warawe to Soelmwar. 'Alas,' thought Vesnalorm; 'Dukeko will die this day at the hands of Llarod, Ightch, Nudah, and Worler!'" And so on.)
In science fiction, it's sometimes the names of alien stars, worlds, species, and individuals, or sometimes unfamiliar technobabble ("Quick! Stabilize the dynethro coupling to provide a mekanon field so we can bypass the Vokk generator and keep the mesospace engines from granulating!").
Either way, it can cause readers' eyes to glaze over quickly, and erect an impermeable interest-repelling wall between the reader and the story.
But sometimes I read a story that, despite being full of unfamiliar terms, draws me in and keeps me interested.
Of course, the line between interesting and offputting use of unfamiliar terms can be in the eye of the beholder. I think we've published a couple of stories that I thought did a great job, but that at least a couple of readers said they couldn't get past the opening paragraphs of. And certainly Karen and Susan and I have disagreements about this kind of thing in stories we're considering.
So, a question for y'all writers and readers: what techniques do you feel work best for making use of unfamiliar terms inviting rather than offputting? Or at least for softening the impact of the new words in the opening paragraphs of a story?
(Names courtesy of the Fantasy Name Generator; for a particularly enjoyable set, try the Bad Name Generator on that page. See also the Random Tolkien-Elvish Name Generator (which supplied me with the name "Almarëkilyanna"); an unrelated non-Tolkien Elven Names Generator; another unrelated non-Tolkien Elf Name Generator; the Tamriel Rebuilt name generator; and, while I'm here, the Random Title Generator.)