It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
I talked about vocabulary before. The topic is of interest to me. Now, I’m returning to it with a new twist. Recently I read someone’s review of one of T. Kingfisher’s stories. It was a good review but it had the following objection: “The humor and writing style is appealing but occasionally too modern for a folk-tale-like novel with a medieval setting. Kingfisher’s characters sometimes use current words or phrases like ‘okay’ and ‘wait ― what?’ that briefly pulled me out of my immersion in the story.”
I had a similar critique for my novels, but why? It’s a fantasy. Why can’t its characters speak like we do? If they speak like Shakespearean heroes or like Brits in the 19th century, it is OK, right? But they can’t speak like my neighbors? Who made this rule?
I understand this approach for, say, regency romance. I don’t agree 100% but I understand the demand to comply with the language of the times, at least in dialog, to make it sound more authentic. But in fantasy? The characters in all my vaguely-medieval fantasy stories speak modern English, the language I write it. And why not? It’s my fantasy world.
When Charles Perrot or Brothers Grimm wrote their fairy tales, their characters spoke in a language contemporary to the writers. They didn’t make their speech regress a couple hundred years into the past. Why should we, the writers of today, do that?
What is your opinion on the subject?
Lately, the administrators of IWSG came up with a new initiative. Every post for this monthly blog hop would be accompanied with one question we all have to answer.
This month’s question: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?
My answer: My first piece of writing was a novel. When I started writing it, I didn’t know anything about writing, so this novel served as a school. Whenever I took a writing class or read a textbook on one of the aspects of writing, I would apply my new learning to this novel. The number of revisions it went through is so high, I lost count.
Eventually, I abandoned it for other projects, some of them published already. My first novel is still sitting on my computer. I might return to it but I’m not sure. I haven’t read it in years. I’m afraid it would be horrible, and there are always some new ideas in my head. Maybe when I run out of ideas…