Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

This is supposed to be a flaky thing.

Number 14 on William Safire’s Rules for Writers (tongue in cheek):
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

That’s probably a good idea in a dissertation, a medical journal write up, or anything called a treatise (whatever that is).

But I write fiction! I can do all the forbidden stuff. Violate all the rules. Give a character the task of being trendy, flaky, and saying “like” way too much.

I greatly enjoy writing dialog for Hortense Duckworthy. She’s a retired librarian in the Imogene Duckworthy series and likes to show off her erudite vocabulary (big words). Of course, she would be great at crossword puzzle solving or Scrabble, but she likes to stick in her words to obfuscate the discourse, so to speak. Picture me writing her speech with a thesaurus in hand—sort of. I actually know a lot of her words, but do look up a few.

Here’s a sample.

When Hortense sees Immy heading for the fridge in BROKE, she asks, "Are you ravenous, dear?"

To a guest: "Would you care for a libation?"

Immy whispers a translations, “Would you like something to drink?"

Then Hortense asks, "Or perhaps a malted brew?"

Immy mouthed the word "beer" to Theo.

I think that qualifies as flaky, if not trendy. I am trying to make my young characters begin sentences with “so,” but that may be out of fashion by the time my next novel is published. All we can do is try to keep up!

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