Using slang

Slang dates very quickly so that a contemporary piece of fiction, liberally sprinkled with buzz words from up-to-the-minute speech, will appear quaint and odd in a few years' time.

Slang is, however, an invaluable method ofconveying period. For example, can you date the following phrases?

1. She thinks she's the cat's pyjamas.

3. You're doing my head in.

(Answers at back of book.)

The characters' ages play a large part in the use of slang. Different generations have their own slang languages and as we have seen, the most effective method of conveying a different language is through the use of the odd word here and there, rather than trying to reproduce it in large, indecipherable chunks.

Writing dialogue is not so much a matter of reproducing exactly how people speak to one another in real life. It is more about setting down on the page a representation of speech which helps the writer convey character, period and plot in a realistic way.

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