Friday, October 9, 2009

Crap Blast Dang Crunklesnit Gashbunking Crud

News flash: it is fun inventing curse words. All those good Anglo-Saxon fricatives, harsh and spittly. Sliverous wretch! Ark-barking mange-eating snail pit! Gubbering, zit-poxed, lackwit, specilious, feculent gorgon! Harpish festoon! Squit-flanked rash-cobbled linny! On and on.

Yet I should get down to the business of this post and the reason for my vexation: the thunderclap realization that while my latest book is pretty good, it's also NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Here's what brought this home. In my writing room I have a shelf full of sailing books for "research" (and entertainment when I'm supposed to be brushing my teeth, going to work, cleaning the litterbox, writing, folding laundry, finding receipts, whatever).

Several of these focus on the nearly-lost art of seamanship of big square-rigged sailing ships. A few others --strangely interesting -- are just dictionaries of archaic sailing terms, now nearly lost. I'm fascinated by words that are specific to a skill, or an industry. Especially when the words go the way of the great ships, sunk or lost at sea or burned in war. Imagine a whole language comprised of nothing but the thin whispers of extinct words.

I actually have to make myself not even open the dictionary of archaic sailing terms, because it tends to ensnare me: jaw sags open, eyes dilate, unfolded laundry drops to the floor, and I read and read and read.

The problem is that even with this wealth of information at my fingertips, I have not included nearly enough of it in my manuscript. Part of which is very concerned with life at sea, and in a port city by the sea.

The only solution, I fear / hope, is to read that dictionary, to learn all the terms, and then to carefully sprinkle them into the story. After all, I don't want so many strange words that I need a glossary.

EXCEPT! Hold that thought! D. M. Cornish does just that with his Monster Blood Tattoo books; I should be so lucky to create a world so vivid and compelling as that one.

The good news is, whether I add in lots of these words, or just a few, I get to read the dictionary either way. Now I just need a cold and rainy weekend.


Sam said...

I don't know....sprinkling jargon in might be confusing for us civvies...
Also, I think it is fabulous as is. I keep thinking about the yak hair glasses alot. Oh. Should I not be speaking about The Book online?

S R Wood said...

Sure, talk it up. Just don't give anything away!

missalister said...

Well garbinger dandit, I like the hebbage out of your feckleschneck words! And I was going along with everything else, smiling and nodding, until you started in with the need to sprinkle freudanzy latherbies in your waitaminute manuscript! This is exactly the kind of thought that sets my fear-smelling red lights to spinning in time with my procrastination sirens. I’m with Sam. For me, too many fer’n words break my stride. A smooth, fast sail through a well-crafted read is pure pleasure in my book. My opinion, anyway : )