05 June 2012

Let Readers Mispronounce Your Words

Professional Viewpoint Toward Readers

Be willing to let your readers mispronounce your words. A professional viewpoint toward your writing includes a level of detachment. If your work is successful in the public arena, many thousands of people will read it. Once your work is published, you will probably not be able to control what the public does with it. If you have invented new names and new words, you should sever your emotional attachment to those words. Unless you have written them to comply with the easier rules of pronunciation, you stand a chance that your readers will pronounce them differently than you intended.

How to Get Readers to Pronounce Your Invented Words Properly

Three solutions to troublesome pronunciation are:
  1. Create words and names that use standard pronunciation rules
  2. Create a pronunciation guide
  3. Sever your emotional attachment to invented words and names
Be aware that no matter how hard you do number one, some readers will still mispronounce your words. For number two, realize not all readers will use the guide and not all readers like them. If you truly need a pronunciation guide, you might want to revisit number one. For number three, remember that once you hand your work over to the public, it belongs to them.

Make Fictional Words Easy to Pronounce

If you desire complex-looking words, just be aware that your effect will be visual, rather than auditory. Readers might not like hard-to-pronounce words. Try to make readers happy with your invented words by making them easy, and when they mess them up anyway, just let it go.

27 May 2012

What Is Sword and Planet?

Who Created the Sword and Planet Genre?

The creation of the Sword and Planet genre is credited to Edgar Rice Burroughs. This has become a relevant subject of conversation thanks to the movie John Carter or John Carter of Mars. In the book series, the character, John Carter, is whisked away to Mars and finds adventure and romance with a Martian princess. The first book in the series is called A Princess of Mars and the last or one of the last is called John Carter of Mars. Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote other stories about men engaging in high adventure on other planets, such as Venus, and another that told of adventures inside the moon. The characters used basic weaponry, often swords, thus giving the genre its name.

Noteworthy Sword and Planet

Edgar Rice Burroughs has received credit for inventing Sword and Planet, but other writers have found success with the genre as well. Leigh Bracket created a very entertaining series about the planet Skaith with a main character named Eric John Stark who had an unusual and very rugged upbringing on a hostile planet. The three-book series included The Ginger Star, The Hounds of Skaith and The Reavers of Skaith. Bracket successfully mixed telepathy, witchcraft, swords and sun worship with space ships and space travel.

A Future for Sword and Planet Movies?

Whether or not the movie John Carter brings back the popularity of the genre for readers and fiction writers is yet to be seen. However, it does complete a journey that fans of the sword and planet genre have anticipated for many long years. With movie technology at a point where sword and planet fiction can be successfully translated into film, we may see more of the age-old classics of the pulp fiction era reintroduced to younger generations.

17 May 2012

What Is Pulp Fiction?

Two Definitions for Pulp Fiction

If you ask the average person on the street what pulp fiction is, you will collect three answers rather than two. Unfortunately, the most common response is, “I don’t know.” This answer will come, most often, from those born after the era of pulp fiction. From those of the older generations, or those of the younger generation who have looked up the word, you will receive the other two answers. The first definition describes pulp fiction as novels or short stories printed on cheap paper that contain sexually explicit content. This version describes pulp fiction as cheaply written stories that used sex as part of their allure. The second definition alludes to the same inexpensive paper but relates the content as “escapism.” In this second description, the stories contain wild adventures in exotic settings that allowed the readers to escape their ordinary lives.

What Is the Definition of Pulp Fiction?

Pulp fiction stories were written on cheap, pulpy paper with ragged edges, but which usually had an exiting full-color cover. Some of the stories did contain sexually explicit content and, often, the covers showed scantily clad women in distress. Though such content was part of pulp fiction, it does not truly define it. Pulp fiction included a vast array of genres, such as western, romance, science fiction and crime. Therefore it is more appropriate to describe pulp fiction as exciting and exotic fiction written on inexpensive paper.

Where Did Pulp Fiction Go?

Pulp fiction was a very popular medium for the average person in the decades leading up to World War II. Though various articles cite different reasons for the decline of pulp fiction books, most agree that war related paper shortages created a rise in paper costs. Despite the decline of the medium, pulp fiction left a lasting mark on culture in the United States and worldwide. Some suggest that pulp fiction created the idea of the rough and tumble American hero. Pulp fiction characters include Conan the Barbarian, The Shadow, Buck Rogers and Tarzan. Though the era has passed, present day writers still build from the foundation that the heyday of pulp fiction created. 

Links to sites that describe the history of pulp fiction:

15 May 2012

Express Fictional Character Education through Speech

Your Fictional Character Has an Education

Your fictional character has an education you might not have taken into consideration. This is true whether your character is a farm girl from the 1700s or a swordsman in a fictional realm. Life includes education. That farm girl learned to cook from her mother and her parents’ education shaped her knowledge. The swordsman in a fictional land had to learn his craft somewhere. Can he read? Is he a simple peasant who became a soldier or is he a nobleman? You should make a decision about your characters’ education. Once you have this idea down, you can then craft they way your character speaks with much more finesse.

Education Shapes Fictional Character Vocabularies

When creating characters, it is important that you make them sound different from one another. If they all have the same voice, readers might get bored. Readers could also wind up confusing the characters. Each character should have a unique voice. One way to achieve that goal is to limit their vocabulary. You can craft their voice by carefully monitoring their choice of words. If you want to show that one character is smarter than another, don’t let the character of lesser intelligence use bigger words. You might allow only the smartest of your fictional characters to make use of your full vocabulary. Your reader will probably not recognize this technique on the surface, but the flavor of the characters’ intelligence will translate through their choice of words.

Fictional Character Vocabularies Tell A Lot

Let a snide character use words that tell of an imagined intellectual superiority. Have simple characters use words that speak of humility. Your choice of your character words will give them a depth they will lack if you let them speak without vocabulary limits. Try crafting their speech with their education and attitudes in mind and you might find they take on more realism than even you anticipated.

08 May 2012

Create Invented Words with the Reader in Mind

Invented Words in Fiction

If you are writing a fictional story or novel, you will probably need to invent some words. The further away from reality you get, the more new words you will need.

Fictional Characters and Places

You will need fictional names of characters and of places. You might invent a new location, a species or a new technology. Regardless of what you are creating from scratch, be sure to label those new things with your reader in mind.

Create Fictional Words Wisely

My Pet; Aul'thlakt-Tau'nu'nu
Three apostrophes in a name might seem foreign or alien, but it doesn’t help your reader get past the word quickly. If people stumble on the word each time they come to it, they might get annoyed. Readers should be able to read your invented words with relative ease.

Test Invented Words

Because many people sound out their words, invented terms should be possible to pronounce. Some writers will create new words without testing the sound out loud. If you find you stumble on your own creation while reading aloud, your reader won’t stand a chance. Be kind to your audience. Make your names as weird, unique or alien as you like, but make them pronounceable, for the sake of your readers.

05 May 2012

Fictional Foreign Languages

Foreign Languages Add Realism to Fictional Characters

Giving one of your characters a foreign language can help immensely when crafting unique characters, even if the language isn't real. Language gives you a level of control that few other traits supply. Further, because we run into this phenomenon in real life, it makes fictional characters and settings seem more real.

Invented Foreign Languages

Be careful when crafting a language that doesn’t actually exist. The first problem is you might wind up using words from a real language. Do an Internet search with your made up words to be sure you are not saying something you did not intend. Secondly, don’t overuse them. Too much text written in a non-existent language may detract rather than add to your story. If you are actually going to write fictional foreign sentences, keep them short. You might also want to limit your use of hyphens and apostrophes. It might make the language seem foreign but if you look at actual foreign languages, they don’t look like that. Hyphens and apostrophes might make the reader pronounce it the way you’d like but it won’t look as real to the eye. What’s more, many readers won’t take the time to pronounce it once they realize it is a fictional language.

Fictional Foreign Language Techniques

A sentence spoken in a foreign language will identify the speaker as foreign. A handful of such sentences are all that you will need. You might create the effect you want with just one sentence. Another technique is to give the character a single word or phrase, which they repeat throughout the story. The reader only has to learn the phrase once and thereafter identifies the character as a foreign language speaker no matter how much ordinary dialogue the character uses. Foreign language can also add mystique and mystery. An ancient text written in a dead language can be a lot of fun.

The uses for foreign language in fiction are as wide as your imagination. Use them well and your characters will take on greater depth.

30 April 2012

Creating Fictional Characters with Spoken Accents

Accents Can Help Your Fictional Characters

Just like in real life, accents can tell a lot about a fictional character. An accent serves as a reminder that an individual is unique. It sets the speaker apart from those without accents. When a fictional character speaks with an accent, it may help to give the landscape a wider breadth because the reader imagines an individual who comes from far away. Accents reflect realism. The world we live in has many accents, both domestic and foreign. Using them with your fiction can help to imbue your characters with greater depth.

How to Give a Fictional Character an Accent

In short, you have two options for giving your character an accent. The first is to change the way your spell the words. The second is to tell your reader that the character has an accent. Both methods have pros and cons.

Portraying Character Accents through Spelling

When you change spellings, you guarantee that the reader will know the person is speaking with an accent. Unfortunately, some readers might not know what you intended the misspelled word to mean. Words altered too much can frustrate readers. When misspelling words to portray an accent, make sure they are not too different from the original. If words are far removed from the original, then you had better come right out and tell the reader what the character is saying. Afterward, the reader will be able to more easily digest the word or words the character is speaking differently. Characters who pronounce certain words differently can add a special flavor that is quite enjoyable.

Describe Character Accents

When you don’t change the spellings of words, you need to tell your readers about accents through description. You can simply state the type of accent, such as “Russian accent,” or you can describe exactly how the character pronounces certain words. The downside to this method is that you need to remind your reader occasionally. The text does not show the accent so the burden falls upon the narrator’s voice. Don’t believe you can tell your readers once and have them remember throughout an entire book. You will have to drop hints and reminders repeatedly if you want your readers to imagine the accent you hear in your head.

Character Accents Elicit Reactions

An additional way to demonstrate your characters’ spoken accents is to have other characters react to them. Is the foreign speaker hard to understand? Is the sound pleasant or annoying? Your other characters might make comments about an accent or, at the very least, they should have a thought or two about it.

Accents Enhance Fictional Characters

If you are looking for a simple trick to set a character apart, give him or her an accent. Whether it be regional or foreign, the accent will give the character a unique feel.

26 April 2012

How Foreign Language Enhances Fictional Characters

Characters Need Characteristics

Giving a fictional character a foreign language can help a great deal. If you give a character an Italian accent, for example, a reader’s entire concept of Italy will probably get added to that character. Making a character hail from a foreign land increases that character’s depth immediately. Preconceived ideas come prepackaged with almost any language you choose. You can relate a lot of information almost instantaneously.

Multiple Languages Can Imply Value for Fictional Characters

Even if you tell your reader outright that your character is dumb, they may believe otherwise if the character speaks multiple languages. The more languages spoken, the higher marks they might receive. Even if intelligence isn’t included, multiple languages add value to a character. A simple-minded character can still translate for others. A character that can read in more than one language may be very valuable to other characters, and to your plot. A single multi-lingual character might help to write you out of several corners, especially if your characters are moving from country to country.

Foreign Languages Add Depth to Stories

When used with finesse, fictional foreign languages can add depth not only to characters but also to entire fictional settings.
Languages imply:
  • Distance
  • Culture
  • Regions
  • Borders
  • Governments
  • Varied upbringing
That is just a handful, and the list can go on. Language can even suggest the passage of time. Writers often use ancient languages to increase intrigue.

Try Using Languages to Spice Up Your Fiction

If your characters have turned out dull, or you are looking for a special twist, try adding the aspect of a foreign language to one of your characters. You might enhance your writing with an unexpected and interesting dynamic.

13 April 2012

Foreign Words Add Realism to Fiction

Foreign Language Enhances Realism of Fictional Characters

farm_fenceYou can make a few words go a very long way in your fiction. You can go throughout a book, claiming that your character is French, but as soon as he or she says, “Bonjour,” you have sold realism to the reader. In fact, you might not even have to tell your reader from where your character originates. If you were to write a story about the American Southwest, a character that said “Si, Senor,” will immediately be assumed to be of Latin American heritage by your reader. Further, if you use Hispanic characters in your novel, it might be strange to never to hear a word of Spanish.

Foreign Language Adds Realism

A few foreign words will give your characters the realism you are looking for. A bit of research will help you to craft their words. Is your French speaking character from France, or is he or she from Canada or Switzerland? Learning the different nuances between dialects can add detail to your story that is undeniable. Writing that contains those kinds of details is often applauded for allowing the reader to learn something new.

Have Fun with Foreign Language

Don’t get tangled up in foreign language studies. If you have difficulty, just get what you need to enhance your story. You might have fun learning new things. If you enjoy what you find, you will probably translate your sense of interest over to your reader.

10 January 2012

Google Panda Update Takes Advertising Copy 20 Years into the Past and It’s a Good Thing

Google Panda Update Changes Things for Advertising Writers
Google Panda is an update by Google that took affect in 2011. It has created a lot of stir with Internet marketers. Many sites that had top rankings dropped off the charts, according to their owners. SEO writing is a constantly evolving field. You may have had the experience of going to a web site and reading content that seemed awkward. The name of the web site appeared in sentences repeatedly, sometimes not really making sense. Those paragraphs were not really written for you, they were written for a search engine program. Site owners have been caught in a tug of war between search engines and site visitors. Site visitors wanted interesting content but search engines were looking for a particular format. The new Google Panda update has now put the emphasis on the visitor.

Google Panda Looks for Content Geared Toward Visitors
Apparently, Google Panda is designed to look for content that interests visitors. Google did a study to determine what visitors wanted to see or what they liked to see. Based on the results, Google Panda now looks for those characteristics. Photos, site arrangement, and quality of text now take on a new emphasis. Those who became accustomed to robotic SEO writing will have to tone it down. According to reports on the new system, web writers will now have to create their writing with the human reader in mind.

Google Panda Takes Us Into the Past
Google Panda takes us into the past by making writers of advertising copy focus on the reader, rather than “Google bots.” Instead of writing for a search program, writing will again focus on the consumer, the way it did in the past. For those who have suffered through pages of text written for a computer program, that’s good news.

05 January 2012

Good Clean Sentences

Write Strong Sentences
A writer should always try to get the point with as little fluff as possible. While you can do so by creating a great initial sentence or paragraph, you should enhance the body of your work also.

Remove Unnecessary Words From Sentences
Getting to the point means making crisp sentences that don’t have unnecessary words.

“The officer came to a decision about what to do,” could be said more definitely. “The officer decided what to do.”

Keep Readers Interested
The second sentence above is stronger and will push readers along, keeping them reading. Too many words that do not contribute to your meaning might eventually bore them.

Say what you want directly. Instead of “She began to sing,” write; “She sang.”

Get Accustomed to Better Sentences
These added words may seem to belong there. Once you get used to eliminating them, your writing will take on a more powerful feel. You want your reader to remain interested. Loads of extra words like these can turn a reader off, even if he or she doesn’t know why.

Tighten up your reading with concise, tight sentences.