Cover to Cover #320B: Reading the Writing

13 ThingsVoicemail: Michael and Michael discuss usage of contemporary vocabulary in period fiction, the development of slang consistent with your universe, and mixing English with words from foreign languages.

Listener Review: None this week! We need more reviews!

Discussion, continued: Summer and Lorrie join in the continuation of the discussion about what elements draw them into a story, and what elements jar them out of stories. Lorrie explains what she is enjoying about the L. A. Banks "Vampire Huntress Legend" series (which she's halfway through in just 6 days), and Summer relates several instances that jarred her out of story continuity so bad she threw the books against the wall (and in one case, tossed the book into the fireplace).

They also discuss strong scenes or elements in mediocre books that help keep books that could have been better alive and selling, and the reasons for not doing negative reviews of books.

Mike M tells us about a new book he's fallen in love with: 13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time by Dr Michael Brooks.

Submitting Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know!

Promo: The 5th Race


  1. enjoy the podcast, especially when you give hints for writing and ask writers how they approach writing, such as do they outline, how they develop magic, etc. I would really like to read your Secrets to writing stuff, but can't find it. Where do I go for that?
    thanks and keep up the good work

  2. Michael Mennega says
  3. Where do you find the email address for Cover to Cover?!?!?!? I don't want to leave a voice mail, I just want to send an email, but where on your web site is the form and/or email address?

  4. Mike, your comment about disliking "A Knight's Tale" is exactly the point I tried to make in my voicemail: The "classical" music we're used to for fantasy and medieval movies is as anachronistic as rock music. If a movie takes place circa 12th century the music better be religious madrigals if you want it to be appropriate to realism.

    I agree with Stackpole that an author creating a world should create their own slang, absolutely!! But, to use some modern slang does not violate any sense of logic or realism--only personal expectations.
    Take a look at any English text from 500AD to 1000AD--you won't be able to read it. (Beowulf in the original English is a good example).
    Take any modern fantasy novel and select three sentences. Grab the nouns used and check them out in the Oxford English Dictionary. You'll find nearly all of them will have entered the English language since 1000AD from French, Latin, a little Norse, a tad of Greek, and a smidgeon of German. Now, if someone says "hell" in a novel you think they better have a hell in their mythos, does that mean if a character says "house" they should also have a Nordic nation in their world? If they say "masonry" they should have a 14th century France in their world? Why should the word "sh-t" be avoided any more if they don't have a 14th century Germany in their world?

    No reason at all, logically, just subjective expectations.

  5. "does not violate any sense of logic or realism" ...more than what has already been violated by simply writing in modern English in the first place, that is to say.

  6. Bob: feel free to send an email to any or all of the people you want to talk to: mike@, summer@, stackpole@, brian@, lorrie@

    Of course, tack on the dragonpage dot com part afterwards 🙂

  7. I actually liked A Knight's Tale. I think the reason the anachronistic language and music worked was cause the movie was intended to be a comedy, and, while Mike may disagree, I think the rules are looser for comedy. If it had been meant as a serious movie, I'd totally see his point, but it wasn't.