Friday, April 24, 2015

Advice from a Wordsmith: Who are you characterizing?

Sleeping Giant, M Snyder
Great advice from Zoe on writing dialogue:

Results of too much Latin in the author's lingo

Literate writers need to think about who they are characterizing.  If they are writing about people who have not been to college and haven't spent their lives reading, then it's likely that---whoever the characters are---they have simpler vocabularies than many authors do.  The author should consider this in writing their dialog and not have them spouting many 3 and 4 syllable words.  But the writer may not think of it in the writing that's not dialog; the author is more likely to write in his or her own lingo.  Depending on the story context and all, this may not be a consistent style.  

A rule of thumb (with zillions of exceptions, but nevertheless it's helpful to keep in mind) is that our language has two major basic sources:  Latin and AngloSaxon.  The former is a well-developed, formal language and enters our language in thousands of words, most of which are multisyllabic and not as likely to be in everyday use as words from AngloSaxon, which tend to be one or two syllables and make up a majority of common parlance. 

AngloSaxon talks speech; Latin promulgates conversation.  

Latin is the basis of all the European Romance languages, which is why it's so prevalent in our language.  So keep in mind as you write and edit to watch out for syllables.  It's a thing authors need to be aware of in their style---a style of matching narrative with character.  This is not always the thing to do, it depends on the story line and many factors, but the author needs to be aware of it to be able to make a choice.  

Published authors, especially on first books, have often experienced many revisions to get their style into sync with current marketing values without losing their own "voice," or writing style.  As an editor, if you aren't sure you can help with that, better not try. Good to have all these ideas in your armamentarium, though. Guess where that word came from---by the way, Greek also contributed a lot, especially to technical and medical terms, the Greeks were ahead of the Romans, but the Romans certainly raised gabbing to an elevated and civilized pitch.  Gabbing, is of course, an AngloSaxon assessment of Roman discourse.

Zoe is a retired professional editor with decades of experience writing, and editing doctoral theses, books, and periodicals of all kinds. 

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder

Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales, decoding prehistoric images, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales and tracing them to their roots. She is an author, columnist, publisher, artist, and teacher. Her artwork, inspired by her love of symbolism and folklore, has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.
     Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:

    Symbology series:

Symbology ReVision: Unlocking Secret Knowledge  
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: My Art and Symbols 
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered 
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images 
Symbology: World of Symbols  
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids

Fairy Tales: 

A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book One - The Lost Unicorn
A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book Two - The Lost Mermaid
The Fairy Tales: Once-Upon-A-Time Lessons First Book

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