Saturday, September 11, 2010
Word Choice Matters
But what about when you don't want the laughs? I'm currently working on a book that's inspired by the hard boiled detective novels of Marlowe and Hammett. Those detective novels have their own slang and I wanted to give my book that flavor. But then I wrote the following snippet:
"She's guilty, Teddy. Lucky fingered her. Tess fingered her too, I was there. By tomorrow, I'm betting half the school will have fingered her for this and there's nothing we can do."
The scene in which this unfortunate snippet resides is a really tense scene and I want readers to be on the edge wondering what's going to happen next. But the word choice, finger, has another meaning, a sexual meaning. Since I'm not playing this scene for laughs, any unintentional chuckles I get from this will ruin the mood and kill any tension I've created, and that's definitely not what I want.
So be careful when you're picking words, especially if you're using slang from another era. Because if you finger someone who's got a lot of spunk, you may not like what happens.