Writing about concepts in a fictional way can be tough. You are trying to fit abstract themes into a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. And that story needs to be interesting. And you can’t talk too much about the idea. You can’t hold forth about death or courage or striving to do the right thing directly. Your concept must be in the context of characters being themselves.
When you are dealing with humanoid species who are rather obscure (ahem) you have the secondary problem of making them real, different from human, but real so that any humans reading the book can identify with the characters. Sometimes you have to resort to making up words to refer to the culture. Not that there isn’t a precedent for that. Chortling and galumphing, two favorite words, are from the “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll.
So, in that fine tradition of making up words that represent something unique to my vision, I wanted to express the idea of the wholeness of a cognoscente, conscious being: body, mind, soul and the capacity to love, all in one word. But there was no word that came to mind. So I made one up.
The word came to me and afterwards I realized I had based it on a real word that didn’t quite cover my concept but instead described my striving to find that word. The word I came up with was F’ma and the word that suggested it was Ephemeral. Yeah, that’s what you get when you have a twisted mind.
So then I started collecting words that we substitute for ideas that don’t have an apt descriptor. Slang comes to mind. Defined as an informal word or phrase and synonymous to patois, argot, cant or jargon. I appreciate slang. One century’s slang is will often become the next century’s King’s English.
I found some sweet sites that cover quite a range of slang. If you are a writer you may be looking for one of these, if you aren’t you might be using some of these words, cause everyone’s a creative soul at heart (at heart meaning that F’meral place inside all of us).
The Online Slang Dictionary is up to date and easy to navigate with over 17,000 slang words defined in 24,000 definitions. Even slang can have more than one meaning. Like bye, Felicia…Who knew?
And if you speak the King’s English or should that be the Queen’s English you might want to check out The Dictionary of Slang from the UK, I know there are many words I had no connection with before finding this site. Very cool, mahusive.
Going back a bit, here is a site for Elizabethan slang, Bene.
And if you are interest in words that are made up that have become mainstream try this.
One of the criteria used as a standard for separating animals from mankind is the ability to make and use tools. Words are tools after all, we create them as we need them. By the way there are quite a few animals who create and use tools too. We’d be able to understand them if we could just remember how to speak Commonsong…