This is selected text from my son's new Transformers book:
"We Primes represent the entire cybertronian race, standing inviolate, incorruptible--a figurehead. We encapsulate an ideal, an archetype...."
"Despite vociferous, if duly respectful protestations from Prowl, I take Ark-32 and set course for the Muta-Gaath Nebula, and, within its far from welcoming gaseous volatility...."
Wait for the sound effects, though--surely THEY should be easy to understand. Saying them out loud SHOULD help you hear the action, right?
Uhh... yeah. Maybe not. It sucked to have to admit to my six year old that I had no idea what his Transformers book said. I turned it over to the husband who was able to translate it effectively--though with some frustration. You know--because every six to twelve year old boy knows what the term "vociferous" means. The husband walked by while I was reading it and stopped cold in his tracks, asking, "What on earth are you reading?"
Which begs the question: "If a thirty-three year old English Major doesn't understand what the book says, who were they writing this for?"
By the way, this is only the first small section of the book--the first twenty pages of a two hundred page book.
I know this subject (word choice) has come up in a few other blogs: Bane's, for example. Still, I have a question about it in regards to POV.
So, my NaNo manuscript is going well, but I'm occasionally wanting to stick in words that just may not be right. If this were a third person book, I'd have more license, I think. If you're writing a first person book from a seventeen year old's perspective, how far can you stretch the vocabulary when describing actions, attributions, giving a little back-story? In dialogue, it would be obviously stupid to start vociferously peppering my speech with complex vocabulary. (Although if Optimus Prime does it... doesn't that means it's okay?) Should the entire book have the same exact level for both thought, perceived, and spoken language?
I'm beta-ing a book for Diana that is in the first person, and I noted a word used in a description that I thought was too much for a sixteen year old, and it got me thinking about my own book. (If I'm going to be hyper-critical of anyone, it's going to be me.) BTW, Di, that's part of my reasoning for thinking the book should be shifted to third person--language constraints.
So, while this might be a rewrite thing to address, I'm still curious. If a seventeen year old wouldn't say it to the person next to them, can you still use it in non-verbal communication in a first person narrative?
Okay, I'm going to "out" Diana--which may horrify her, but it illustrates my point, and she might forgive me. The sentence that got me thinking about this started with "I demurred..." but it was this teenager mentally describing an action.
Can a sixteen year old "demure" in a first person narrative?
Can a robot vociferously toss around ten dollar words in a first person narrative meant for young boys?
On the one hand, you don't want to talk down to your audience, but there must be allowances made for your audience, right? Even with context--in a first person narrative--there are constraints, right?
Yes, I'm nitpicking, but we're all big kids, and I've crossed the 50K mark, and my middle name is "nitpick." (Thanks, Mom. Way to make my life awkward in junior high.)
As for me, I still sound vile, and it's hard to sleep at night when your lungs feel like they're drowning you. T's eyebrow wound--should have been stitched. The glue is not enough. I think it's too late to go back and have them redo it, though. Dang it! I called it too. I walked in and said, "Stitches." I got over-ruled by so-called medical professionals who are not professionals in a six year old boy with sensory issues who WILL bang his head against every available surface. T was sort of excited to tell the story at school. (Hopefully, he drops the part about it being his little five year old girlfriend. They're going to get married some day, so he might as well learn to stand up to her when she is young. She's a bossy little thing, but that's part of her charm.)
Happy Thursday, everyone. Go have some Frosting. (Wink wink, Deb.)