My husband laughs at me whenever I try to insert some teen slang into my sentences because it never comes out right. The attitude, the tone and, usually, the context is completely wrong. My children groan, my husband shakes his head and the unfortunate recipient of my mangled sentences smiles bemusedly at me, takes a tentative sip of their drink and furtively searches for someone else to talk to. However, give me a script and a character to portray and I’ll sink into the part like a warm spoon into honey. Dramatic characterization is a big stumbling block for many but for me it is a life-saver; not that I attend parties intending to sound like Armstrong and Miller’s RAF boys, but a well-rehearsed joke will slide off my tongue better than one that pops into my head at the last moment.
My daughter asked me yesterday (as part of a school project) how I thought technology had influenced the English language. Of course, my first question had to be how far back in time did she wish me to go – the invention of the pencil? The Gutenberg Press? Perhaps the computer? I should have known, how silly of me, she was only interested in the latest technology, that which had come into being since her own conception. It is an intriguing subject and my husband and I were well into the discussion when she decided she had enough material and slipped away. It is a topic I have delved into (lightly) before. My friend Penelope Harper wrote a blog entry on the expression ‘loving it’, an expression that also makes me wince. But the word that consistently tops my weekly ‘Aaaggghh’ list is ‘gotten’. This weekend I read a book that was littered with the word and so many paragraphs full of Primary School ‘I did this. He did that. He did this’, that my mind went a little crazy with all the stumbles. The book? Inescapable by Amy Bartol, a self-published teen author. Now, the storyline is your standard teen paranormal romance featuring angels; a ‘hot’ guy’ and (naively unaware) ‘fit’ girl; special powers; a murderer on the loose; a love triangle…you get the picture. The book would have tumbled quite easily into the top 100 charts if – if – Ms Bartol had bothered to get her work professionally edited. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud her for getting to where she has with the following she has amassed; it is quite an achievement and the story is appealing. What I would like to request is please, if you are an aspiring writer, please, please, please, get someone to edit the book. I love eating, I could cook a passable meal for my family and, if I faithfully followed a recipe, a wonderful one too. But that doesn’t mean I could open a restaurant without help. Write, write for all you’re worth, but let someone else perform the taste test.
Please, don’t groan. My editor’s off sick.