Whether you are writing historical, fantasy, science fiction or paranormal, when it comes to world building I much prefer to be drawn into a new or strange domain by being introduced to fascinating characters/creatures or reading evocative, visceral narrative description. I dislike having to puzzle out a lot of made up words and language or worse, read through awkward exposition or backstory to explain to me what these new words mean.
The very best example of this sort of world building gibberish can be found in the scene in Ghostbusters, when Louis (possessed by Vinz Clortho, Gozer the Gozerain) is brought into Ghostbuster headquarters:
“Louis, who is Gozer?”
“He will come in one of the prechosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldranii, he came as large and moving Torb. Then, during the third reconciliation of the Mekertix supplicant, they chose a new form–that of a giant Slor! Many shubbs and zuuls knew what is was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day I can tell you.”
Okay, that was satire. Hilarious satire. But how often have you read a fellow writer’s manuscript and had one of those eye-roll experiences as you slog through an overdose of this very kind of vernacular? I’m sorry, I have zero tolerance for gibberish of any sort. Techobabble, sci-fi slang, ghost patter, demonese, angel idioms, Greco-myth-speak. All of it. And the historical writers can be just as bad, especially when they get esoteric and show-offy pointless.
On the other hand. If you can do it will style, then you may get away with it. I believe that’s called pulling it off. And, I grant you a certain amount of odd-speak is not only expected, it is probably even necessary, but this made up jargon should be sprinkled about in the story. Sparingly, I think, is the operative word here.
Give me your Gozer in moderation, please.
Honestly, to suck me into an ancient or futuristic world I need layers of information.
The writer must use all the senses, sight, sound, taste, touch, smell. I need facts, the rules of the world. All of these things help to ground me, the reader, in the story. But I have to be……beguiled. Drawn into the mystery of this new world, whether it’s by a creeping fog slowly drifting over a dark lane in late Victorian London or the triple moon sky of an alien planet. These kinds of thrilling sights and eerie descriptions help create an emotional connection. Too much gibberish (especially up front) makes it hard for the reader to immerse themselves in the time-space continuum, so to speak.
No matter how extraordinary your field of dreams is, try to keep it real. No amount of comic book lingo will ever supplant the wonder of creating and experiencing a living breathing world filled with whatever kind of fire-breathing dragons you wish to thrill me with.
G. Jillian Stone
There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.
Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: http://www.gjillianstone.com