Feel the burn! Feel the Bern! Both familiar expressions. And most of us have heard them both. Well, a few of you whippersnappers probably haven’t heard the first one. If I’m not mistaken, Richard Simmons brought that alive for a lot of us as were sweatin’ to the oldies. Then along came Bernie, and we were all feelin’ the burn again, this time in a totally different manner. Remember the 80s? Headbands? Sweat socks?
What does this have to do with writing?
Expressions come. Expression go. They link us to socio-economic groups, age groups, genders, ethnicities, all of the above.
Burn or Bern? For most of us over fifty, we immediately think of exercise, workouts, and sweating buckets. For the millennials, the immediate thought is a possible presidential candidate.
And this is important why? Expressions can date us as writers, and they can also date the material. The use of archaic expressions with a character in her twenties and thirties immediately dates the author. And honestly, it cheats the reader. Why should they have to do homework to understand a novel? How about a character in her seventies who says that something is dope or sick? She’d better be a hippie wannabe, or she will stand out in a not so good way. Groovy!
Any work jammed with contemporary slang will date it right away.
Unless Bernie wins the nomination, how relevant do you think Feel the Bern will be in a few years?
As a writer you have to be aware of every word you use. Think ahead. Realize how each word will hold up through the ages.