1. Prometheus
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    Prometheus Banned

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    Genre Writing Question

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Prometheus, Mar 2, 2010.

    If you are writing about an object that might not be commonly know outside the genre what do you guys do.

    For my specific example: I'm writing about a pommel bag. Everyone here who knows what a pommel bag is say "me".*sound of crickets* Right?

    I've.... here I'll post that little except:

    [blockquote] All he ended up grabbing off the horse was his lariat, and his pommel bag. The bag contained some spare ammo for his guns, one change of underwear and socks, one hundred and sixty seven dollars, a small cooking pot and half a dozen disposable lighters.[/blockquote]

    I don't really want this critiqued, I haven't even proofed it yet (for what that's worth) and I suspect I'll end up splitting it into at least two seperate sentences. But anyways, I'm just curious of you guy's opinion of whether I should add more of a description of what one is? I guess the same question for lariat too?
     
  2. PsychoFreaX
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    PsychoFreaX New Member

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    If I was the reader I'll look it up
     
  3. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Well, I don't read much in the sort of genre that would include lots of pommel bags and lariats, but I can make a good, educated guess about pommel bags (a bag on the saddle of some kind, right?), and a lariat is pretty well known I think. I wouldn't worry about it; I think most people could figure it out ok.
     
  4. Prometheus
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    Prometheus Banned

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    A pommel bag is actually hung from the saddle-strings in front of the pommel....The horn is on top of the pommel...so it's on the front. But I guess just getting on the saddle is enough for the story. Is lariat really that well know?
     
  5. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Well, I dunno, but I know what one is. I dunno if that means everyone will, but I think that it would really sound funny to stop and describe something like that, especially if your character knows what everything is. If the reader really needs to look it up, they will.
     
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  6. Prometheus
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    Prometheus Banned

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    Good point.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's not that obscure a term for any henre that would have horseback riding. If a reader doesn't knoew the term, he or she will look it up, or make a good guess from the context.
     
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  8. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    Yeah, I don't know what either are. If I was reading your work, I'd probably just look lariat up, and just call the pommel bag a bag. It holds stuff - I don't need to know exactly what it's like lol. That's just my opinion though haha.
     
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  9. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Information about the objects in my books slip into the narrative, or the dialouge:

    the image of the high-prowed birlinn coalesced against the backdrop of the waves...its long, slender build, and narrow mast were now in view, and Seonaidh jumped from the shore onto the deck as it was driven onto the sand

    It's not always that obvious. Sometimes it happens over a few pages. The readers find things out as they are needed, so it feels as if they already knew it, and I don't need to stop an explain how the thing was made, what it was used for, the name's meaning, etc.

    That example is also rather obvious - the birlinn is clearly a ship, and if it slowly comes into view, then it's not that large. The context will give your reader additional information, even if you don't intentionally put it there.
     
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  10. Prometheus
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    Prometheus Banned

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    Great, thanks guys.
     
  11. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Sounds fine to me (pommel bag and lariat, I mean). You've done a nice job of showing what it's for, in my opinion. If your reader doesn't know what a lariat is, my guess would be he's reading the wrong genre.
     
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  12. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    You mean that bag-thingy, often confused with saddle bags, that is hooked over the saddle horn to carry a few trail necessities? Nope. Never heard of it.
    Well, okay, I lied. But, then, I live in horse country so I'd better know! Also, as far as the lariat - anyone who doesn't know what it is probably lives in a cave and isn't going to be reading your book, anyway.

    I don't think there's a big issue with it, actually. You allude to the fact that it's a bag large enough to hold this, that, and the other thing (although some people might envision something larger and more cumbersome and still others might misunderstand the difference between pommel and pummel and think it had something to do with boxing ;)). He takes it from his horse along with a rope. Anyone who would be reading the genre would probably know anyway and anyone who didn't and was curious enough would, as others have mentioned, go look it up.
     
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  13. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    It's a bag, right? That ya get stuff outta, right? If the intricasies of what a pommel bag is exactly has something to do w/ the story explain away, but if that's its only purpose in the story, then i think a description would be unnecessary.
     
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  14. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    I had no idea what a pommel bag was, but I could pretty much figure it out from simply reading it in context - a bag that a rider might be expected to have. (I do know what a lariat is.)

    Wouldn't worry about it. It's better to use an unusual word or phrase as it would naturally occur in context then being patronizing towards the reader and explain them all in detail. If you try to educate your readers of what a pommel bag or a lariat is, a lot of them are going to be rolling their eyes.

    Anyway, having to look a term up never hurt anyone. Heck, I owe considerable parts of my vocabulary to that.
     

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