Few Quick Questions for Readers

Posted: September 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

1. In the first draft I use fake made up expletives like “flak.” Is that jarring or interesting? Does it sound natural or weird? And how much profanity can one get away with in a young adult novel?

2. For the first half of the book, people refer to the powered objects as the “Stuff.” Then we shift over to the more official title, the “Articles.” Which name is better? Or is there a third name for a collection of magic items that would sound cooler? Ideas?

Thanks for keeping up! Making good progress today!


  1. Alyssa says:

    So – *solely* my opinion – I think that the made up words sound exactly like the made up words kids use in front of their parents to mimic, but not actually *do*, cursing. Therefore, they flow just fine.

    On the second, ‘Stuff’, even capitalized, always struck me as *too* generic – stuff can be items, but also amorphous, imaginary or insubstantial ‘stuff’ like “I am going through some stuff right now” or anything else. Stuff is the pronoun for everything not alive. To have the ‘collectors’ name for them be less formal is fine, but it needs to be a little less generic. The ‘Items’, the ‘Objects’, the ‘Things’ are generic and deprecating, but still give the impression of real, physical objects as opposed to potentially being ephemera, or emotions, or otherwise. The Articles is a nice formal counter that still is generic enough to encompass the items in question. If you want to go even more formal – and specific – like on Sun Eight, you could go with the Regalia.

  2. MHPayne says:

    Speaking as an old fuddy-duddy:

    I found the various weird words you used instead of “said” as dialogue tags to be the most jarring things in the text. I mean “riposted”? How is that even pronounced?? 🙂

    With swearing, though, I’ll point you to




    a couple articles by Mary Kole, an agent with Andrea Brown. So you can see what the current thinking is.


    • blackflak says:

      Mike: Thanks for links. I will duly try to reduce my number of non-saids. At least I’ve mostly stopped using “he smiled” as a dialogue tag. Have to agree about riposted, but stand by “failed to not say.”

      Alyssa: Ooh, I like “regalia.” Must consider.

      • MHPayne says:

        I like the term “non-saids” mostly, I think, ’cause of the assonance with “nonsense.” The two are similiar as well in that a limited amount of both in a book is fine, but overdoing either sends the book over the line into something other than regular readable fiction.

        As for revising, after I’ve finished the first draft of a story is my favorite part of the writing process: carving away the excess; finding the words that clank and trying to think of better ones; removing at least half the uses of the word “just” and the clauses beginning with “as.” Ah, yes.

        Which, of course, is why I’ve been doing webcomics for so long, a medium in which there is next to no time for actual revising…

        Mike Again

  3. Articles. Definitely, Articles (he riposted)

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