Writing and Publishing

Be Careful With Slang

I’ve had several posts about word choices: Commonly Confused WordsSame Word – Opposite Meaning, and Confusing Words. Next up is slang.

We need to use caution when interjecting slang in our writing.

Slang can date our work: If our story is set in the sixties, a character might say “groovy.” However, anyone who wrote “groovy” in the sixties would have a dated piece today. As we write we need to guard against slang words or phrases that would later date our work — just sayin’.

Slang can confuse: Sometimes meanings can cause problems. The slang of “bad” means very good. If a character says, “Wow, that’s bad.” Is it unacceptable or good?

Slang can change: I once heard a mom nonchalantly talk about her young daughter “making love.” I was shocked, but the mom simply meant “kissing.” Or consider texting. Does “LOL” mean “laugh out loud” or “lots of love?” The answer might vary depending on the age of who we ask.

Slang can offend: In another blog, I wrote about raccoons in the neighborhood. I wanted to use the slang for raccoon in my title but didn’t because “coon” can also be a racial slur. My intent to be cute could have offended, so I avoided that slang expression.

In our writing, we need to exercise restraint with slang.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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