In Defense of Plain English

I am told by “Abner Doubleday” that the use of modern 21st-century slang in historical and fantasy novels is a matter of debate and he’s right for using it.

So, in novels set in the ancient world before the Flood, and involving spiritual beings as well as mortals, Abner has archangels call each other “you guys” and tease each other with nicknames, while the rebel angels, devils, run around quoting Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

As you can probably guess, I’m warming up to write a review of these dreadful books. And the thing that makes them dreadful is the totally dumbed-down language in which they are written. Abner thinks this gives you access to a wider audience.

But surely plain English can do that just as well, without being incomprehensible to readers twenty years later. I don’t know what kind of theology he expects to teach an audience who can’t fathom anything much more intellectually challenging than a text message. This audience is addicted to movies that are pitched to the 11-year-old demographic, so it expects improbable wisecracking and forced badinage from all characters, all the time.

These movies will be unwatchable to the next generation. Meanwhile, they are extremely tiresome. It’s like they’re all part of the same interminable movie cooked up for middle school dropouts.

When you write, folks, try to remain within that really not so narrow area between “Dude, ya got a problem with that?” and “I prithee, sweet Prince, beshrew me no more.”

Your readers will thank you for it.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

2 responses to “In Defense of Plain English

  • Laura

    The more modern books I read, the more I dislike the snark and banter that goes on between characters. Yeah, I get it, good friends will banter with each other and stuff, but it’s really annoying to see that that is the measure of friendship in these books. A real friendship should be manifested by something deeper than always trading snarky replies and fake insults (which, by the way, in some cases is just plain ridiculous; you don’t have time for sarcastic repartee in the middle of a battle).

    /// And as the siege of Heaven went on, the angel Gabriel spake unto Michael, and said, “Hey, bruh, you wanna go get a burger?”

    And Michael did grin, and he said, “You know it! Burgers are my fay-vor-IT!” \\\

    All right, I’d better stop …

    Like

    • leeduigon

      Wit cannot be searched for– Laurence Sterne (and he should know!)

      Really, isn’t it time we got over “M*A*SH*” and “Cheers”? The wisecracks are forced, characters trying on purpose to be flip and funny and flat-out failing at it.

      As soon as this writer has one archangel calling the other “dude,” I will declare war.

      Like

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