Sunday, 12 April 2015

Writing - Be clear in what you're saying




I'm sure idioms create a level of frustration and in some cases even difficulty in following a story or a film. A writing colleague, in a reply to a blog I wrote, emphasised the need to be wary in the use of idioms or colloquial sayings. The reason - it can seriously affect the size of your audience and success of your work.

Image result for Blended
Blended

One recent example came when I was watching the above film - Blended. A very enjoyable watch with some good gags but at one point the lady on the left says to Drew Barrymore,

"You should roofie her and shave her head!"

Fairly obviously it is some kind of penalty given to someone who has done something wrong to Drew Barrymore but what does 'roofie' mean even if it is spelt that way?
Well I think it is a reference to Rohypnol which is a fast acting sedative and then of course the saying makes some sense. The mistake for people unfamiliar with the nickname for a drug is the assumption that everyone knows.

Of course the real issue is where to strike the balance between writing in the vernacular and sticking to standard English. We are always advised to write from where you're at but what if that is from a basis of a strong regional influence? Don't worry, there is no right or wrong answer but the result, as I alluded to earlier, is the influence on the size of your audience.

Image result for audience

So the message is to write from where you're at but be aware of your audience.

Soapbox

Perhaps soapbox is a little strong for me but it is certainly relevant to those thinking about the forthcoming UK General Election. It is also an issue that affects all countries in some degree. The topic is immigration. UKIP have collected quite a few supporters over this topic in the UK but it is not something that is new. The political issues tend to be around on cheap labour, pressure on a nations infrastructure, and taking jobs from local people. This wasn't always the case.

Image result for 15th century immigration UK

In the 15th century Medieval immigrants were described as,

"heavy drinkers, barbarous and full of guile"

Many of the immigrants were from Wales, Ireland and Scotland rather than, as now, from Europe and further afield. UKIP are talking about a points system rather like the system Australia adopted, but in medieval times immigrants were offered licences which offered foreign workers a package of guarantees.
Here we are in the 21st century with similar problems between the indigenous population and immigrants, apart from the fact that a significant number are not our enemies unlike the Scots were in the fifteenth century.

Image result for mind what you write

As the title of the blog suggests it is necessary to take care over what your saying. The immigrants of yesteryear and today attracted negative labels and negative connotations when in fact they are ordinary people looking for work. In your writing if you are too closely tied to writing from where you're at it could detract from the message that is being conveyed. So take care of your use of language and the facets of personality of your characters, and make sure the message is successfully conveyed.

God Bless