Whenever I travel to the good ol’ US of A, there are several moments every day when this happens:
Maybe I’m ordering a coffee or hot dog. Something American.
‘All right mate?’ I’ll say.
‘I’m sorry. What?’
‘Are you all right?’
‘Oh, I see! You’re British.’
But then when I come back home, I’ll be talking to a mate – sorry, buddy – and I’ll say ‘Meet me on sidewalk outside the bar.’
‘The fuck, Jack? If you mean the pavement outside the pub, yeah, I’ll see you there in twenty. Bell end.’
So I’m sifting through my second draft and all these phrases are starting to creep their way in. The trouble is that they date worse than Jeffrey Dahmer.
Remember ‘rad’? Shortening of ‘radical.’ Popularised in the UK in the late ‘80s by either Teenage Mutant Ninja Hero Turtles or Brad from Neighbours (I’m unsure who had the greatest influence on the youth at the time). If I had written this novel in 1989, would it be peppered with the use of ‘rad’? Possibly.
Or if I had written it in 2011, would I use the word ‘winning’ constantly? Probably not, because I always thought Charlie Sheen was a twat. Sorry, twot.
A constant source of irritation is the incorrect overuse of the word ‘epic’.
‘Had a sandwich for lunch. Lots of tomatoes in it. Was totally epic.’
‘Finger-banged your dog last night. It was epic.’
So while I try to steer away from popular slang, I find a smattering of it can breathe a little life into a character.
I enjoy the odd, mostly phonetic, Irvine Welsh novel every now and then, but unless it’s done well, it can just be plain distracting.
I dunno. I’m on the fence about this one. Which is strange from me.
I’m in danger of making my narrator sound like some dick from Made In Chelsea by sterilising his speech. But alternatively, I don’t want it to read like a crap, self-congratulatory monologue from Snatch.
Any wisdom from you guys?