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How do you feel about slang spelling? (1 Viewer)

Xander416

Senior Member
Do you use it or not? As an example, I have a character that commonly refers to people around her, whether friends or not, as "dawg" which basically means friend or buddy. That specific spelling looks and even sounds kind of awkward to me when reading (not just in part because said character doesn't have a Brooklyn accent which the spelling certainly invokes when pronounced-as-read), but at the same time "dog" just seems equally weird due to its common usage of describing someone as ugly or otherwise unappealing.

Thoughts?
 

TheManx

Senior Member
Yeah, dawg means something entirely different than dog, so why wouldn’t you use it?

“Slang,” colloquialisms, phonetic spelling of dialect etc. — they all have their place...
 
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ehbowen

Senior Member
I avoid it unless I'm trying to achieve a specific, limited effect, such as having a character with a Texas background emphasize "Pardner" or some such to make the connection clear. As soon as the point is made, I revert back to ordinary grammar. Speaking as a reader, slang or "creative spelling" used consistently for 75,000+ words gets very old very quickly.
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
One problem with slang is if it falls out-of-date.

That can be a problem, but using a more generic term can cause a piece of writing to lose it's authenticity.
An example: In Amsterdam there have for many years been cafes where you can buy and smoke weed. People often call them coffee shops (nudge, nudge). However, someone who was a smoker in the 1960s/70s would have been more likely to call them milk bars. I did write a piece that was partly based in the Amsterdam of those times and used "milk bars" as the term because it seemed more authentic and it's what I and many others used to call them.

And that brings me to another term "straight people" or "straights". These days it's more likely to be used to describe people who are now referred to as CIS-gender or non-gay,-bi,-trans etc., but back then "straight" meant someone who wasn't into drugs. It seemed to usurp the term "square", which became the domain of straight people.

I feel that authenticity trumps concerns about changing language, but that's a personal opinion that may not be shared by everyone.
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
I think the slang use would depend on if your piece is meant to be literary or mainstream fiction (whatever those terms might actually mean). Using slang is not easy to do well. I write a lot using a southern accent, which is also not easy to do well. I'm still searching for the right touches that give my pieces their strong southern flavor without turning the characters and their language use into stereotypes. (Emma pointed out, and I think she's right, that slang can quickly fall out of date because our language use is always changing.) Writing . . . it's one big risk after another.
 

EmmaSohan

WF Veterans
That can be a problem, but using a more generic term can cause a piece of writing to lose it's authenticity.
An example: In Amsterdam there have for many years been cafes where you can buy and smoke weed. People often call them coffee shops (nudge, nudge). However, someone who was a smoker in the 1960s/70s would have been more likely to call them milk bars. I did write a piece that was partly based in the Amsterdam of those times and used "milk bars" as the term because it seemed more authentic and it's what I and many others used to call them.

And that brings me to another term "straight people" or "straights". These days it's more likely to be used to describe people who are now referred to as CIS-gender or non-gay,-bi,-trans etc., but back then "straight" meant someone who wasn't into drugs. It seemed to usurp the term "square", which became the domain of straight people.

I feel that authenticity trumps concerns about changing language, but that's a personal opinion that may not be shared by everyone.

Apparently they are called coffeeshops, just one word. There is an issue of getting the slang right.

Yes, it can be interesting or authentic to read slang, like reading the someone is the main character's bae. (from a book I read last week with a lot of slang)

There is also an issue of writing in a way that the reader is likely to understand the paragraph even if the reader does not know the slang.
 

TheManx

Senior Member
I’d tend to give the writer the benefit of the doubt and assume if he or she is going to use slang, they’re going to think it through and consider the context and any risk associated with a reader not understanding it. They don’t need to hear about it from me ahead of time. :)
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Unless slang is written such that it's difficult to read, I think it's fine.

As the saying goes, we each dip our tongues into different wells of words. Everyone has a unique speech pattern made up of favored words and phrases. When I'm designing / learning about my characters I give them their own well to draw from.
 
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