As authors, sometimes it seems as though we have our own language. We discuss items such as POV (point of view), show vs. tell, dialogue tags, hooks, and an endless list of writerly terms.
Sometimes, we even confuse ourselves. Here is a snippet of a conversation several of our authors recently had.
Writer A: It started with that “Pow” about three pages of “pow” at that, and then had 100 pages of drivel and boring characters.. .yeah, 100 pages before I gave up.
Writer B: That is to say that I’ve yet to start one with that “pow”. To me personally as a reader and writer that’s not that important to me, but I have found myself moving that “pow” forward in the story.
Writer A: And the “pow” doesn’t have to be a spectacular fight scene or sex on the beach or anything else that might be put in there for shock value so the reader will continue to read. Sometimes all it takes to wow
someone with a “pow” is a clever turn of phrase or a universal question to which they want the answer.
Writer C: Help me out here ladies.. I know POV but haven’t heard POW, well
prisoner of war, but I don’t think that applies here.
Writer D: Pow,, as in impact. momentum. It took me awhile too because it was capitalized lol!
Writer A: That’s why I put it in quotes and made the reference to the old Batman series. You know, when they flashed the words “pow” and such to convey impact, usually a fist to a face, as in a fight.
Writer D: You know we are all dropped into all of the jargon so much that it makes our heads spin. At times, we forget what normal words like POW really are!
Writer A: Sometimes I just forget myself. I never even thought that anyone would misinterpret the word “pow” for an acronym like POV. Must remember not to post these things so early in the morning before the brain is caffeine-induced. On further thought, I realize that I should’ve covered my blunder by making up an acronym. Maybe I should’ve said it stood for something like “Powerful Optical Writing.” Anyone else care to take a crack at it?
So we did, and this is the list we came up with:
Powerfully Observant Witticisms
Push Over Writers
Pull Out Whips
Prolifically Over Written
Please Offer Words
Praise Often Warranted
Promising Optimistic Wisdom
Potentially Oscar Worthy
Probably Often Wrong
Positively Outlaw Whining
Our male publisher spouted off with “Wait a minute–you mean is doesn’t stand for “Power of Women?”
To which the reply was… “… you come face to face with POW–the Power of Women and then go off in a corner no one cares about so long as it is no where near us and POW–Pout or Whine. We simply use POW, the Power of Wisdom, and close and lock the door…
So, what kind of POW can you come up with?
The other day, I was a patient waiting patiently for the nurse to call my name. I grabbed the magazine closest to me on the waiting room table and perused the pages. The publication was an interior decorating magazine aimed at people who have six figures to spare. Each of the rooms was decorated with an abundance of top-dollar items designed by well-known names and firms in their circles.
I have no idea who they were.
Obviously, I am not in that circle. On one cream colored wall was a framed drawing in a childlike scratch of x’s and o’s. My thought? How sweet, the wealthy homeowners framed artwork created by their child or grandchild.
Nope. The artwork, which looked exactly like something one of my kids would have rendered at the age of three, was some kind of a big deal by some famous artist.
I can’t remember his name and it really isn’t important to me, however it does make me want to give the kids a pack of crayons and some poster board and see if I can’t get rich selling their scribbles as art since that seems to be all the latest rage.
Books are similar. People will buy any book written by an author they have heard of, even if the book itself isn’t any good. There are forums across the internet devoted to authors who have created one good book, and a lot of mediocre books. Readers rave about how many they have read and the plot points of each, and if anyone disagrees with the fanatical ravings, then they are immediately quartered and drawn by the other members of the group.
Now, I am off to go find an artists page and let the fanatics there know that if they insist on adorning their walls with a particular style of impressionist artwork, I can get them quality originals for a fraction of the price. All I have to do is build the name recognition.
Do people really talk to each other anymore? If I want my fourteen year old son’s attention, I text him. His fingers fly over the tiny keys faster than my own whiz across a keyboard. He doesn’t talk to his friends on the phone, instead choosing to communicate in silent spurts of abbreviations and acronyms.
With all of these substandard forms of writing floating around, the rules of grammar, punctuation, and even the meanings of words have blurred. In emails, forums, groups, and text messages, miscommunication is common. The reader cannot see or hear the writer. They cannot hear tone or inflection. They cannot see facial expressions or body language. All the reader can see are the letters arranged to create a semblance of understandable communication through words, acronyms, or abbreviations. If the reader isn’t familiar with the writer’s code, then the letters are merely that. Letters arranged without any meaning.
For authors, our goal is to paint the entire picture for the reader. We lay out the scene so the reader can see the characters and the locations and hear what is happening at the time. Our letters must be arranged carefully into comprehensive words, structured sentences, and complete thoughts.
Can you imagine the books of the future? I will translate for you in parenthesis.
“AY?” BG (“Hi, how are you?” Sally asked with a big grin.)
“0 U?” J (“Nothing, what’s up with you?” Mary replied, smiling)
“0 WAYD?”(“Nothing,” Sally replied, “What are you doing?)
“Broke up w/bf” L (“I broke up with my boyfriend.” Mary’s voice was sad.)
“Sry” (“I’m sorry”)
“NBD” (Mary shrugged. “No big deal.”)
“RU OK?” (“Are you okay?”)
“J but WTF?” (“I’m fine,” Mary said. “I just didn’t understand what went wrong. It started out so well and then he just changed. We had so much in common and we talked all the time, but lately, he’s been so distant. I think there may be someone else. I just don’t know. You know how guys can be. They are all lovey dovey when you’re alone, but the minute his friends show up, he becomes a stranger, and then the other day, we were in a chat room and he was talking to some blonde avatar. And I was right there.”)
“SOB STBY” (“What a jerk,” Sally said, “I wish I could say something to help.”)
“NP BRB” J (“It’s okay, really,” she said cheerfully, trying to keep her spirits up despite the devastating breakup. “Hang on a second okay, Sally?” Mary had another text coming in on her phone.)
“HB GGP” (“Sure,” Sally said, “Go ahead and answer it. I have to step away for a moment anyway.”)
“OMG GTG TTYL” (“Sally, he’s texting me right now telling me he’s sorry and he still loves me.” Mary couldn’t contain her excitement. “He doesn’t want to break up. There was no other girl. He knows he behaved badly. He promises not to do it again. I’m so happy!” Mary practically raced around the room with joy, her voice rising as she talked to her friend. “He’s going to give me his personal email address and he’s going to send me a real picture! Anyway, I have to go for now because he’s still texting me and his picture is coming through. I’ll talk to you later and let you know what he looks like!”)
Just imagine, in the future, a book like War and Peace would end up being a mere thirty pages.