Re: RARA-AVIS: Re; Language

From: crimeflix (
Date: 27 Mar 2005

Hey, I missed most of this, but I think Charlie makes some excellent points and I thought I'd do one last post on the subject. I think a lot of crime fiction (as opposed to mystery fiction) portrays a realistic vision of the world and part of this is in the use of language. I'm not saying that language needs to mimic the way people speak in real life, but I think it should at least reflect it...And I love what Charlie wrote about how he won't sensor himself. I feel the same way. If I hear a character talking in a particular way that's the way I write it. When I do a revision, if something sticks out or seems awkward I'll cut it, but I won't make a cut simply because I think a word will offend a reader...In fact, that's the kind of stuff I always try to keep in. Cheers!

--- In, Charlie Williams <cs_will@b...> wrote:
> Kevin wrote:
> > On Mar 25, 2005, at 3:25 AM, Charlie wrote:
> <snip>
> > >
> > > So you've created these fictional people, and now
> > you're imposing
> > > your own sense of modesty on them. How true are
> > your characters now?
> > > How real can they be, with that constraint?
> >
> > Sorry, Charlie, but this is fiction, it's not
> > "real."
> My idea of fiction reflects the real world to some
> degree. That's the kind of fiction I like, personally.
> I hear there are other kinds. You can keep them.
> > Real life doesn't have to be believable or full of
> > great dialogue.
> > Fiction does. If writers wrote the way most people
> > actually speak,
> > nobody would bother reading.
> I never said that writers should write the way most
> people actually speak. My thrust was that a writer
> should not have his characters speak the way he
> himself speaks (hence my words: "imposing your own
> sense of modesty on them").
> > A good writer is always editing himself, tailoring
> > his work for his or
> > her readers, trying to tell the story he wants to
> > tell without losing
> > his audience. It's part of the creative process,
> > this distilling
> > reality and re-presenting it as fiction. A writer
> > who only writes for
> > himself is almost surely going to get the audience
> > he desires.
> >
> > And a writer who is always whining "but it happened
> > in real life" to
> > justify some complete leap in logic or some excess
> > or another, is
> > probably not going to gather much of an audience
> > either.
> Kevin, what can I say, thanks for the education. And
> there I was, going along, writing characters exactly
> as I hear people speak in real life, not once
> considering that I could employ my own critical
> judgement on the words I'm writing down.
> > > And getting sideways of the issue a bit... We're
> > crime readers and
> > > writers, right? We read and write about people who
> > kill, steal,
> > > torture, maim, defraud, assault, rape, jay walk,
> > etc... Pardon me for
> > > being controversial, but I think those guys and
> > gals may well indulge
> > > in ripe lingo at times. Bad actions, bad language
> > - which is more
> > > acceptable? Is "I'll cut your balls off" more
> > acceptable than "I'll
> > > cut your fucking balls off"?
> >
> > Without knowing anything about the character
> > speaking, it's hard to
> > tell. But adding "fucking" doesn't add much to the
> > dialogue in this
> > case, as far as I can see.
> Again, my point was that compaints about (or silent
> aversion to) the use of "fucking" (or whatever) in
> crime fiction should be put into context: crime
> fiction is full of bad stuff. How is a bit of bad
> language a problem?
> Not once in my email did I suggest that "fucking" (or
> whatever) should be spliced into a writer's text at
> every opportunity. Not once did I advocate swear words
> for their own sake. I argued that swear words in
> themselves should not be censored away just because
> they are swear words.
> You know, I don't disagree with anything you say. But
> you didn't have to take me completely out of context
> to say it. I can see how much you enjoyed it though,
> so I guess I don't mind.
> > And don't worry about
> > being controversial --
> > you're not.
> Cheers,
> Charlie Williams.
> Send instant messages to your online friends

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