Greetings gentle reader!
Welcome to a guest post on writing unique phrases for your world-settings. I’m A. Carina Spears and I’ll be your guide today! My works range from horror to romance. That said, my favorite genre is fantasy. So let’s examine a quote from “Paladin’s Honor”.
“Maybe now they could get the hammer to the anvil and get down to iron nails.”
That looks like a pretty innocent phrase, right? That line took nearly two days to write. Yes, that. Believe me, what will trip you up as you are happily writing will often not be the things you expect.
So let’s talk about colloquialisms, slang, and common phrases in fictional settings. The phrase above started out with “getting down to brass tacks”. It sounded good, but…did they use brass in my setting? When did it come into use?
Looking it up, it turned out to be from the 19th century. That didn’t really fit my medieval world-setting. What else could I use? The problem at its core was this: If I used something too old, it might not resonate with the reader. If it was too new, it could be jarring.
It looked like a simple phrase didn’t it?
So I thought about what they used in my world. They had anvils and smiths. Okay, so hammer to the anvil and iron nails seemed to fit. Iron nails were used by farriers for affixing horse shoes. Horses were prominent in the story, so they were definitely appropriate and still felt familiar.
Looking at other authors and screenwriters, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders use things like “Shards!”, “Shells!” and “By the First Egg!” Firefly the television series used things like “everything’s shiny” for a spaceship crew. Then they a use a mix of English and Chinese as part of a unified trade language. George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire/A Game of Thrones, had factional ones such as “The night is dark and full of terrors” and “A Lannister always pays his debts.”
How will phrases develop in your world-setting? Is it about commerce and “show me the money” or religion and phrases like “God bless you”? Is it technology that “turns your crank” or fishing that “nets you a bundle”? Sports inspire a lot of phrases like “hit it out of the park”.
Phrases can make your world feel unique and increase immersion. Just take the time necessary to make them memorable. You never know when you will hit upon the next “May the Force be with you.” Until the next guest post, be well and keep writing!
A. Carina Spears is a writer of horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and romance. She believes that if you can master love and death, all of life’s other experiences fall in-between those two extremes. Her works range from “Lost Heroes 2: Firefly’s Tale” to her upcoming novel “Paladin’s Honor” coming out through White Cat Publications. Having chosen the road less traveled, she aims to be like a modern day Thomas the Rhymer, searching for fairy rings, and wandering under the shadows of the trees. She currently lives in Michigan with her researcher cohort and her spirit husband (who will be the first to tell you that he doesn’t do parlor tricks). If you can find something off-beat and quirky she hasn’t discovered yet, she’ll probably enjoy hearing about it. If you enjoy talking about books, you’ll definitely have her ear.
You can connect with her at:
@Gyrefalcon on Twitter