Friday, February 10, 2012

Mundane and Metaphor in SciFi

Two shakes of lamb's tail, New York Minute, dry as the Sahara, crazy as a bedbug.

There are a lot of sayings in our language that you just can't use in a story that is placed on another planet or in another universe. It's part of the world building to create new metaphors and swear words. But you already have to know your world really well to come up with realistic replacements.

I think one of my favorite Star Trek The Next Generation shows is the one where they meet the people no one can communication with. They understand the language, but the words don't seem to make sense. And it turns out that the people only speak in metaphor. So you need to know their entire history to understand what they are referring to.

Every family has its inside jokes and special speech. You know those things that only the family gets and can make you collapse in giggles. A good story needs those, too.

When a writer manages to create a believable world and gives you sayings - May the Force be with you, Live long and prosper - and metaphors - emotionless as a Vulcan, mean as a Klingon, cold as between - the story comes to life. You can live in it and see that new world through the inhabitant's eyes. That's when it becomes addictive and readers want more.

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