Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Limits of Enlgish and Song

My latest flash fiction has me thinking about language and what I want to write. I'm not sure, but I think I want to be some kind of Neo-Pagan Phillip Pullman. I was going to say Neo-Pagan C. S. Lewis, except I share many of Pullman's critiques of Lewis's religious fiction.

The manuscript in question was critiqued by the Wordos Tuesday night. I think most people enjoyed some of the ideas, and some of the language, but there were some loaded pronouns (Eve, Adam) that threw people out of the story. One of the characters (an Aslan figure) sings everything. It's important that he sings everything. The only other popular characters I can think of who have sung their dialogs are Aslan (from The Magician's Nephew) and The Mother Thing (from Have Spacesuit, Will Travel). Judging from last night's critiques, I'm neither C. S. Lewis nor Heinlein.

I've been able to write alien dialog, but last night's manuscript had a definite feel of "lost in translation." Looking at it, and during the writing process, there were a couple of points where I felt the limitations of English. One really clunky thought was to write a glyph and then have a footnote with a translation. Another thought was clunky exposition explaining how the character is always singing.

It's too bad that I can't use color... or make the character's dialog appear as a matrix of words and notes. Hmmm. Or maybe it's easier for me to imagine the piece as an opera.

I guess if it ever turned into a pod-cast I would vocode that character's words (or whatever it is they did to Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking's voices in that one "song" of theirs).
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