Wednesday, 10 March 2010

"You have to listen to us talking to us

and not just to you" my young friend informed me this morning.
Nicola Morgan and I have been at cross purposes again. I think we are actually talking about the same thing but Nicola thinks I have the wrong end of the stick - and I think she has misunderstood me.
We were talking about writing for young people. Now, let me say:
(1) I think it is difficult
(2) I do not think we need to try and sound like them. That would be a mistake, a big mistake. It would be talking down to them. It would also date so rapidly that the book would be out of date before you finished writing it.
(3) I do think that we have to listen to the intended audience. By listening I do not mean listening to vocabulary however 'cool' it might sound or sentence structure 'Yeah, right' or grammar - the plural of 'you' is not 'yous'. That is the surface language. Surface language changes with circumstances. So do topics of conversation. I do not discuss politics with a two year old or use repetitive language with a normal adult.
(4) We have to understand the underlying language being used. This can change with audience and circumstances. The underlying language used by a young person with other young people will also vary according to the activity - school, sport, other recreation, mating and dating etc.
The underlying language they use will be different again when they are talking to adults and, within that, according to the adult or adults with whom they are talking.
(5) It is all very subtle and will be conveyed in all sorts of ways. Writing well means getting the underlying language across by using words.
(6) It is damned difficult...and I probably have not explained this well...
Nicola probably will not read this but does anyone else understand what I am talking about? Am I really that far off the mark?


KarenG said...

I understood you perfectly well. Maybe I speak cat?

Donna Hosie said...

One word: UNFOLLOW!

I don't know why you keep putting yourself through this with that particular blog. Many find it helpful, but it is no sin to say the opposite. Blogger is a big ol' world and variety is the spice of a cat's life - (or so I am told!)

catdownunder said...

You speak cat Karen!
I think that is the problem Donna...N does not speak cat - although she does try! You may well be right about unfollow but I am actually very fond of Nicola as a person. In real life we would probably get along just fine! I know I do not have to agree with everything she says and, darn it all, she is not always right. (e.g. agent - who unfortunately only deals with adult fiction - told me the other day that they would actually prefer an entirely different sort of covering letter from a cold caller because it helps them to look at the ms without any preconceptions at all).
If I stopped sprinkling cat hair on her blog she would probably breathe a sigh of relief but...
yes, yes, yes I AM going to do some work this afternoon!

Old Kitty said...


Open constructive debate is all good - you and Nicola make good points - and I think it's up to the readers to make their minds up for themselves as to which is the best course to follow for themselves. Sometimes we all learn through experience and you don't get experience unless you try out for yourself no matter what advice you read and try to follow!

Besides all this good natured debate all makes the blogging world livelier!


Take care

catdownunder said...

I suspect we all need to be careful. It is like believing something because you have seen it or heard it in the media. I know from my day job how wildly inaccurate the media is!

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed how long two people can argue when they're really saying the same thing. I'm also impressed at the way you held your ground. If it was me, I'd have retreated with my tail between my legs. Except that I don't think aliens have tails.... ~Miriam

catdownunder said...

You're an alien Miriam? I knew there was a good reason for liking you so much! :-)