Getting the language right

In journalism, reporters often “clean up” quotes so the person being quoted doesn’t look ignorant, and so the newspaper won’t be accused of making fun of someone’s speech.

But, in fiction, you want the opposite. You want the reader, after all, to have feelings (either positive or negative) about a character. And language is one way to do that.

Perhaps the most well-known example of that is Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” in which Twain deliberately uses colloquial and what was sometimes considered coarse language to portray his characters. In later years, his books have been rewritten to exclude… Continue reading