Colloquialisms in Fantasy
We have so many colloquialisms in our everyday language it can be hard to weed them out when writing. But those phrases or words can rip the reader right out of the narrative, especially if you’re dealing in fantasy worlds, and no writer wants that.
So, we edit, and edit, and get others to help us edit to catch those errors – amongst others.
Harder though, can be finding colloquialisms for the characters occupying that fantasy world. It’s an interesting challenge to fine ones that make sense and don’t pull the reader from the story by being too similar to an everyday phrase.
I like working with the character’s interest and the religious constructs of the world. If the main character is a person devoted to gardening and the earth, they are more likely to use a plant word or gardening phrase then one about weaponry.
But there begins the challenge.
What is the flora and fauna of the world? Is it exactly like ours, or are there plants that are not only as prickly as a cactus, but the spines bloom flowers the instant they come in contact with anything damp, which could include flesh? If those plants do exist, they could be a great everyday exclamation, but how do you articulate that in an everyday sounding phrase (the kind that don’t have lengthy explanations)?
It’s a challenge. I’ve read and written some that work, and some that really don’t. Thank goodness for beta readers to let you know when ones don’t.
Using the religious constructs can be a little more straight forward and yet trickier because you really don’t want to sound like you are simply substituting a made-up religious name for one that is used in our own daily lives. It’s a balance.
I think this is where all the background and world-building information the author creates and the reader never directly sees, sneaks through. The author knows thousands of details that will never be directly printed on the page, but we can show glimpses of them through things like colloquialisms.
Finding ones that are true to the character and world takes time and thought, but they are so worth it.
6/1/2020 01:28:33 am
This brings up a great point. In editing, it is always important to pay attention to language and word usage. I especially try to avoid cliches. I try to keep my sentences active instead of passive, too. This also brings up a great point about using the type of colloquialisms that make sense for the characters. Excellent post and great food for thought! Thank you for taking your time out to give us writers some great advice! You rock!
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