Interesting edits

Jeroen Steenbeeke  
Last week I sent a work-in-progress copy of "the sequel" to a friend who for all intends and purposes does the conceptual editing for my books. As usual, his comments range from impressions about the story as a whole, my writing style, down to minor nitpicks about the story in general. Reading his e-mails is always very motivating, and I put great weight to his advice as it's always spot on. With regard to "the sequel", he had a couple of suggestions.

First of all was a lack of describing situations from the characters' points of view. I have a tendency to focus on plot progression and dialogue, but sometimes neglect describing the situations (I figure that for many fantasy authors it's the other way around). This is easily fixed of course.

Next: Gift of the Destroyer essentially has 3 main characters, and primarily tells the story from Lianna's point of view. But "the sequel" has 6 main characters, and switches between two of them for the point of view. With a cast that is twice as large you get a lot more interaction, and the need to distinguish between the various characters increases. As such, the advice was to put more emphasis on the various quirks each character has. This is quite easy for some characters, but a bit tricky for others.

But the final piece of advice is proving to be a lot of fun. Apparently, my characters all seem to use a very advanced level of English. This is suitable for some characters (educated background), but somewhat unfitting for others (one character has lived on the streets for years, another is a soldier). As such, I'm "downgrading" a lot of the dialogue to use simpler words. In the case of two characters, I'm adding a lot of swearing, which is proving to be a lot of fun if somewhat tricky.

The problem with adding profanity is twofold: first of all, I want to keep the book more or less suitable for a younger audience, which forces me to be a bit creative in what I use as swear words. I want to avoid words such as "fuck", "fucking" or anything else relating to reproduction (most of my book sales have been in the US, and sex can be a bit of a touchy subject among Americans). In addition, I have to keep in mind the origin of each swear word, and if the development of such a swear word would be plausible in my setting. The people of Chaedin and the Seven Villages do not believe in a personified deity, so saying "God-damned" or anything related to that wouldn't make much sense (they tend to stick to "Light-Blasted" in that regard). Aside from religion and reproduction, another common origin for profanity is bodily functions (for example: "shit", though I find that one rather uninspired). A common profanity uttered by at least one character is "bloody".

Finally, cultural events could be causes for profanity, though I've not yet come up with any good profanities in this regard, though I did invent a Ktharian proverb in this regard: "going North" means "staying put" or "going nowhere".