Today I am engaged, one way or another, in writing. Unfortunately, in the world outside Faerye Net, I cannot simply create a bizarre world and genre – Dickensian urban dark fantasy, shall we say? – and expect the reader to like it or leave. Out in the world, it is the reader – editor, professor, etc. – who tells me to leave! This puts me in the position of having to please my audience to a far greater degree than I must here. At the same time, my best work can only come from being true to myself, and who wants to be false?

That brings us to today’s difficulty; rephrasing on the fly. My current project is written from the point of view of a little girl circa 1910. Usually I would use this hundred year gap not only to insulate myself from the demands of realism, but to partially justify my habitual vocabulary and verbal style.

However, today I find myself scratching out ‘likewise’, ‘pinnacle’, uncertainly wavering between ‘octopuses’ and ‘octopodes’. I tell myself that a little girl would not speak that way, regardless of era. I tell myself that by modulating my verbal eccentricity in these few respects, I draw in the reader and win her trust for more plot-crucial, global oddities. I ask myself, is that true, or are you merely trying to please your professor? I tell myself, I am striving for an unbroken impression of authenticity! Authenticity? I hoot, you do actually speak that way! It’s not as if it’s affected for your writing. Ah, says the pragmatic Felicity, but is the way you actually speak affected?

Sigh. I am so confused.


Easy answer. Just make her a very intelligent and precocious 10-year-old girl, and let her talk the way you do. It would make her ever so much more interesting, at least to me! :)

... when you were around 10 years old, you quite habitually used words such as “likewise” and “pinnacle”, though I imagine that you would have been more likely to use “octopi” than “octopodes”. For what it’s worth, then, there do exist small children with adult vocabularies- but they usually have some interesting reason for being that way. Therefore, follow LadyLong’s suggestion and construct your character’s background such that it would be plausible for her to have a higher-than-average command of language.

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