23 Skidooobie doobie doooo you know what I mean?

Mistress of Denial, and Lord of the Heels;

I need a snarkilicious answer to my dilemma: how do agents generally respond to words that are common in recent slang, but not embraced by dictionaries, and perhaps not widely-recognized? Say, a word like "snarky" which my American Heritage Dictionary doesn't list, and even dictionary.com defines as slang (though I could swear it's an official word in England)? Are too many of these relatively newer slang words, especially on page one of a manuscript, poo-pooed by agents--or poo-pooed on by KY? (You're dissing my hound's hygiene, ya skell)

And what about a word an author makes up consisting of a commonly used noun with a suffix not intended to be used with that noun, even though the resulting linguistic aberration would make sense to the average reader? For example, pretend it's 1990, and you saw the word "fashionista" for the first time on page one of a newbie's manuscript; long before that word entered American lexicon, or the prodigious vocabulary of Miss Snark. Are you turned off or turned on?

I'm not saying my novel is riddled with them, but would a made-up word (that made sense, of coursea) in addition to a recently minted slang word or two on the first page of a manuscript make you reach for the gin pail? For the wrong reasons, that is.

Then again, is there ever a wrong reason to reach for the pail?

Well sadly yes, there is one time when reaching for the pail is wrong wrong wrong.
That is when Miss Snark's hair is on fire.
Let's just say "Darwin Awards" queried Miss Snark that year...and not for the right reason.

Now, about your slangalang problemo.

If yanno (tm/pp) y'all are using the Queen's English in ways that make the Queen cry "Artemis Fowl", fine and dandy by me.

If I can understand it, I'll read it.

However, slang is a potent weapon in your diction arsenal and like Killer Yapp's delicate pink snout, you have to careful not to put it in the wrong place.

(KY: ya, the nose knows!)


~~Olivia said...

Slang will date a manuscript faster than you can say nitwit.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Olivia, but when it works, it works. Don't you think? And when it's over done, it sucks. As my daughter would say, "Whatever."

Peace Out Georgia Girl

jeanjeanie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Samuel L. Bronkowitz said...

That's a nitwit thing to say. Real people use slang in real conversations all the time. It's how we talk, and it's realistic.

Unless you think you have the next Huckleberry Finn on your hard drive, get over yourself.

jeanjeanie said...

Um. I posted a whole comment here about A Clockwork Orange and 1984 and how real people use slang in every day language so why shouldn't characters and I have no earthly idea how that got replaced by a post I made to my own blog. Blogger is being very wacky today, is all I know for sure. Sorry about the weird randomness. Carry on.

kis said...

"Groovy" is passe, "peachy-keen" even more so. "Transportate" is timeless.

Sorry, I couldn't stop myself. It's that dang alien hand syndrome again. :)

AstonWest said...

Nothing beats having someone mention how they tried to (and couldn't, of course) find your made-up words in the dictionary, though...that's always my favorite.

McKoala said...

Groovy is back in some circles.

Anonymous said...

Far-out, man. If it fits the character and is easily understood by the reader it only makes the story better. -JTC

Anonymous said...

This post dovetails with the footnotes post above. I'm not really a David Wallace fan but I think Inifinite Jest should have been mentioned in the recent NYT straw poll. Footnotes with a program, as well as the neologic verbs
"to X" -- to have sex with, impyling an obliteration of self

"to demap" -- to harm or kill someone by damaging their face (continuing theme of identity loss)

"to go SACPOP" -- the eschatonic form of going postal

the neologic nouns "grievous bodily harm" -- a dyslexic retronym for the real life drug abbreviated GHB

"howling fantods" -- a form of peevish temper tantrum

as well as the preexisting "Bob Hope," "White Wedding," "pillow-biter," and "PGOAT."

Without fourth-wall punctures, I think slang helps accomplish that transportative thing they were talking about a while back.