Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

Can you invent your own words or language? Sure, why not?

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As a writer, can you invent your own words or your own language? Sure, why not?

I’ve tried occasionally to write science fiction, only to find that I lack the science background and become too impatient to do the research to make it seem authentic.

I’ve had better luck writing fantasy, though I’ve not had anything published yet in any fantasy genre. The beauty of fantasy is that you can make things up when you don’t know the “facts” you need for serious science fiction. I am not saying that to disparage fantasy writers in any way. I appreciate the challenges of writing good fantasy — I simply understand that it’s easier to invent a language, or invent an entire world, when writing fantasy.

I was thinking about all this because I just saw a trailer on television for that intriguing remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” which is coming to theaters in December. I definitely want to see it. One of the best and worst movies I recall from my childhood was the original 1951 “Day” starring Michael Rennie. I say “best,” because it turned my young world around. As I kid in a small southeast Nebraska town, it opened my eyes to the awesome world outside our town, and the wonderful possibilities of “make believe.” I say “worst” because it kept me in nightmare land for a loooooonnnnnggg time as a kid. (I was a very impressionable little kid, I guess.)

The original “Day,” and perhaps this new sequel, too, sort of falls between the cracks of “science fiction” or “fantasy.” It had hints of hard science, but relied really on a lot of fantasy. Which is a good reason to forget about labels and strict adherence to genres and just set down and WRITE your story.

Finally, in all this rambling, I arrive at the subject of this post: You are perfectly free as a writer — and science fiction/fantasy thrive on this fact — to make things up as you go along, including creating words and an entire language if you wish. I refer specifically to the classic line from the original “Day,” which has appeared in every type of movie, television show, and even comic books since those writers came up with it in 1951:

“Klaatu barada nikto.”

So get out there and use your imagination and write something to make us all proud of you. (And if you don’t recognize or know anything about the phrase “Klaatu barada nikto,” look it up. You can start with Wikipedia.)

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