1. Artist369
    Offline

    Artist369 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Messages:
    166
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest

    Contemporary Voice in a Period Setting- Can it Work?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Artist369, Jul 30, 2014.

    I have an idea in my brain that I'd like to explore- steampunk world with contemporary speech.

    It would have classic elements to the original genre (not just a modern fashion statement, but the classic little man versus the corrupt, industrial state dichotomy). The technology aspect would be plot driven- in the fact, at the core of the concept. But I want the teen readers concerned with the plot and characters, not with the peculiar way they speak. I don't want to risk alienating my young adult audience with quaint speech patterns.

    So my question is, can a contemporary voice work in such a story given so many steampunk books are set in the Victorian era? (Just fyi- this would not be set on earth, but on its own world).

    What are some examples of contemporary-sounding characters in what you would typically consider period works that are executed successfully and believably (without resorting to time-travel or some other similar plot device)?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    I think that it depends on what you mean by contemporary. I wouldn't recommend using current teen slang, for example, but fairly straightforward New York Times English could probably work fine.
     
    Artist369 likes this.
  3. Chaos Inc.
    Offline

    Chaos Inc. Active Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2014
    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Acolasia
    Romeo and Juliet, the DeCaprio one. See if that's the feel you're going for. I thought it was really out of place, however, I had the classical context to compare it to.
     
    Artist369 likes this.
  4. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Depending on the era you are depicting, you may or may not be able to recreate the modes of speech from the era, and even if you do, it could quickly grow tiresome to the reader. You may want to limit yourself to modes of address and a few iconic expressions, and rely on @ChickenFreak's excellent advice for the remainder.
     
    Artist369 likes this.
  5. Artist369
    Offline

    Artist369 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Messages:
    166
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    Thanks for all the excellent advice. My worry is that I won't be able to show the character of the people if I don't interject humor and endearing dialogue into the story- like the brother/sister dynamic (calling names, teasing, etc).

    The story would be set in a steampunk world with today's social equivalent- but clothing style slightly different to reflect the otherworldly nature of the story. So I had hoped to use some slang and pet names. But it sounds like I need to use context for humor instead of readily identifiable phrases from culture in the dialogue (i.e.- avoid cliches).
     
  6. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Yes. You want to be careful not to make your characters into caricatures. Dialogue should always be as natural as possible. It's a little bit like writing dialogue with foul language - a little goes a long way.
     
    peachalulu likes this.
  7. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,222
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Indubitably, I regret to inform you, sir or madame, that the mode of speech has changed greatly over the course of the last few centuries. Readers would be most befuddled indeed to observe your characters speaking as if in a whole different language all together, and that would be most off-putting. Might I suggest letting your characters speak in the tongue the readers will be able to understand, but please leave out the slang? I hardly think we went around yawping out whatever words our young adults are speaking these days. As EdFromNY so eloquently described, be as natural as you can possibly be. Have your readers be so bound by the story that they wouldn't wish to escape it for the world.

    I do hope this helps you in your endeavors.
     
    Artist369 and EdFromNY like this.
  8. Chaos Inc.
    Offline

    Chaos Inc. Active Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2014
    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Acolasia
    If you're really clever and you want a humorous slant, you can use awful texting lingo in spoken word but give it thoughtful reason. I'm not familiar with works of that genre but I could see "gamer" lingo being used.

    "Sup newb!"
    "I'm gonna pwn u!"

    I feel sick now...
     

Share This Page