I want to make my adolescent novel really resonate with teens, but I am worried about using current slang. Will using current slang date my novel for the future, or make it more difficult to relate to in other regions where the slang may be different? What to do...leave it in or take it out?
Started April 26, 2012 - 09:18 AM
Replied April 27, 2012 - 01:44 PM
This is a good question, StrongRolf. I think that you should include whatever slang you need to use to make sure that your story is interesting and your characters are authentic. Inevitably, slang changes from generation to generation (really from year to year), so it will get old more quickly if you use some of the less dependable slang terms, but no one holds it against J.D. Salinger if Holden Caufield says things that sound specific to his era. No one blames Mark Twain if his characters don't sound like they're modern anymore. If your novel is meant to capture the spirit and sound of a given time (like the present day), there is nothing wrong with dating it in that way. The alternative would be trying to avoid all slang, which runs the risk of feeling stilted or awkward, too. I think if you write good dialogue, this issue should resolve itself.
Replied April 30, 2012 - 02:22 PM
I agree with darryldelano that the use of slang could date the piece, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I think the bigger concern with using slang is actually making it sound less authentic. Remember when your parents tried to use the slang of your youth and they just ended up sounding silly? That is what I would worry about more when adding slang to my YA novel. That does not mean you should avoid it, just take care that you are using it correctly. Find a young person you trust to read it and give their opinion on the authenticity.
Replied May 09, 2012 - 04:48 PM
The above comments are spot on. If you use slang, make sure that you're an expert in it or that you have an editor who is. As an alternative, you might create a world that has different slang than that used in the real world. That's not to say that you can't set it in a real place, but you have the characters use a particular set of slang terms that your invent yourself. You see something like this in Battlestar Galactica ("FRAK!") and other science fiction universes, but such fake slang also happens in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (there is a really great book on the slang of that television show; its author went on to write a full appreciation of slang in general).
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