Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Use of Highfalutin Words

Photo: Working on 7th book in Sabrina Strong series. It's hard to keep up, as the ideas keep on bombarding me.
"The ring's powers may have been compromised when Naamah accosted her." (from WIP)
I get the complaint from my husband that I use big words he just doesn't know the meaning of, and he'll skip over them. I just thought it was him. But I came across something in one of my reviews on my first Sabrina Strong series book Vampire Ascending, that I over-used the thesaurus, and they complained about authors who do this where they have to stop and look up words (I did get a 4-star review from her, despite her other complaints about it). Maybe I'm trying too hard to impress? I don't know.

If I'm doing dialogue I want my characters to sound natural. Some characters (vampires), are from another time all together. Like Nicolas, who is from the 16th century and from time to time uses out-dated words.

Truly, I had no idea that my vocabulary was such that others placed me in a category with authors I've grown to enjoy. You see, I've had the same complaint about certain authors myself. I remember reading Anne Rice's "Interview with the Vampire", and I would high-light some of those highfaluin words, and used them myself. I don't think learning new words should be viewed as such a bad thing. I understand someone not wanting to stop reading to look up a word. But you know, you might want to know that word just in case someone else uses it in another book, you think?

The following is an excerpt from chapter four of Vampire Ascending.  I hope you don't need a dictionary to help you along, but if you do, complain directly to me through the usual means (in comments,my gmail or facebook). (You may find a little of the influence from Anne Rice from this and other sections of my book. One other reviewer stated my writing "...delves into the gritty, violent, dark and sexual world of Anne Rice's vampires..." ~ Tony Martin, Northern Star 2011--I was so thrilled by his review!).

Before I could say something inarticulate, the waitress was back to take our order, and to give me one of her best acid looks, as though she hated my guts. I really didn't know why. Did she think I was his date?
Dismissing this little distraction, I went with the lobster, ordered the salad with French dressing, and rice, not potatoes. The waitress made a wine suggestion. Something from Napa Valley, and something I couldn't pronounce—even after she'd said it. Because she was being so snotty, I went with the opposite. I chose a slightly sweet champagne, (it had said “slightly sweet” on the wine menu). I'd learned from Jeanie, when you're with someone who tells you the sky's the limit, you go for the most expensive food and drink, and eat like you'll never eat again. I waited to see what Nicolas would order—or rather how.
The waitress turned to Nicolas. “And you, Nicolas?”
I'll have the Real Red,” he said smoothly, as though he were ordering the best wine in the house.
I watched the waitress's expression. Smiling tightly, red lips curved up at the ends, she said, “Of course, whatever you wish, Nicolas.” She paused. Nicolas looked up at her.
What is it?”
She cast me a strangely nervous look, and then flicked her gaze back on him. “Later tonight? You're place?”
Eh . . .” Nicolas cut his eyes to me. “Not tonight. I'm . . . working.”
In a huff, she snapped up my menu and darted away. So quickly, in fact, I think she merely vanished.
Is she your girlfriend, or something?”
No.” He said forcefully.
Really? I mean she really looked angry at you, and jealous of me.”
Nicolas' eyes had a strange cast to them. His gaze broke away from me for a second looking past me, then it slid back onto my face.
Other than my needs, she holds no interest for me.” His fingers drummed absently on the table.
I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry,” I said, fingering the cutlery, and pulling it out of the napkin ring.
She is a human donor. On occasion,” he added, looking distractedly at his cell phone readout.
Yours, though?” I don't know why I cared.
Eh . . . yes. One of my regular donors.” He breathed wearily. “She, like all of them, becomes slightly jealous of one another, or any other human who happens to be within my reach. It's so ridiculous, these human emotions.”
But I'm not a donor. Right?” I paused just long enough to straighten the flat wear on my black linen napkin. “I don't want to donate my blood to you, or any of the others.”
Never fear, Sabrina. You are a super-sensitive. You are not on the same level as a donor, or any of the other humans who work for us. You are more special.”
Special. Because I'm a super-sensitive?”
That, yes. But also because, you are my ward.”
Ward?” I repeated. “What does that mean?”
You are my responsibility while you are here, in Tremayne Towers. Plus, you live under my jurisdiction,” he explained patiently. “I oversee a one hundred mile radius. You are inside that area. Therefore you are my ward.” He paused. “It is difficult for you to understand as you do not know our world, our codes, and laws—yet. You do not know our ways. Because of that I must advise you in everything you do while you are with me, or among others like myself. You must do as I say, or—”
Or?” I became wary now. I wasn't especially crazy about what he'd just told me, as if I now belonged to him, or something so eighteenth-century. My great-great grandmother had been an indentured servant. That's about what this felt like. I worked for them, therefore they owned me.
You are my responsibility, Sabrina. Whenever you are at Tremayne Towers, or on an assignment, you will have to remember our rules do apply to you as well, and your being here requires the utmost caution. Do I make myself clear?”
Yes. Crystal.” I was so not liking this situation. “Am I in danger, I mean, if I wander off without you? Not that I would, but just in case there's a fire or something, I have to be prepared.”
There are certain things that will help keep you from becoming an unwilling victim.”
Okay,” I said hesitantly, leaning forward to listen on his every word.
Never walk in front of a vampire.”
Why?” I had walked in front of him when we came inside this restaurant tonight.
The vampire will automatically become the pursuer. The fact that you walk in front of us can trigger the hunger centers. You must think of yourself as prey, and we the carnivore, if that helps.”
My skin suddenly crawled. I had figured there would be some perils in working for vampires. But this was very scary.
So, what you're saying is the vampire behind me will want my blood?”
That, yes, or—” he paused, eyes slipping shut briefly, then he blinked those obsidian pools open. His voice going lower in a seductive whisper, he said, “Our sexual cravings are equal. In fact they are dual needs for us. Any vampire who believes you may welcome his advances will pursue you. We are ruled by powerful primeval forces that cannot be ignored, or denied. Once we are locked into this roll of pursuer, we cannot easily be stopped.”
You mean that I could be raped, or my blood taken against my will?”
Believe me, Sabrina,” he purred low, his voice intoxicating, “it would take so little effort to make you think you wished to be bitten. Once bitten, your pleasure centers couldn't refuse more. Our pheromones are designed to set your human desires on fire and, and depending upon the vampire, on how well he can control it, he can make you become fatigued, listless, so that he can advance on you at his leisure. Or for some vampires, simply with a look can make you feel as though he had just made love to you without ever having touched you at all.”
I had lost the grip on my serrated knife and it clunked to the table making the exclamation point of my evening. I stared at him. His explanation gripped me like a cold hand around the neck.
Another thing you must remember—and this is very important—do not look directly into our eyes. Eye contact makes you very vulnerable. It also is an invitation by you to be enthralled.”
Realizing I was staring right into his eyes, I dropped my gaze. This wasn't going to be easy. “Okay. No eye contact and I'll follow you from now on.” I flicked my eyes up. I realized his gaze had a rapacity of its own.
You will be introduced to the others, in good time. My—eh—scent will be on you, and the others will know you are my human.”
Hang on,” I said. “What makes you think I'll even take this job? Just my walking into this building sounds dangerous.”
It pays fifty thousand a year. Plus bonuses. Much like the one I've just given you?” he reminded.
I nearly choked. “That's an offer I can hardly refuse,” I muttered. I spied the bonus check still on the table. I stuffed it into my purse.
Exactly.” He smiled.
The waitress slithered back, ladened down with our food—well, mine, anyway. She delicately placed Nicolas' goblet down on a round, lacy paper doily. The goblet was dark glass—better not to see what was in it. “Your Real Red, Nicholas,” she said sweetly, almost as if she'd opened her own vein to fill it. She came around to me and served up my salad and lobster and all the trimmings, along with the champagne, and left us alone. It was a good thing I wasn't in charge of tipping her.
Starved, I began eating, while Nicolas sampled his drink, and set it down, his hand draped over the rim while it resided on the table. This would take a little getting used to, knowing I was having dinner with a vampire. Out of all my daydreams about someday meeting a vampire, I had never once envisioned this. ~© 2010 Lorelei Bell


  1. It makes sense to me that vampires, being quite old, would tend to speak in a formal register, but that passage, in terms of the wording you use aside from his dialogue, doesn't come across as high faluting.

    It's all in striking a balance, I think....

    I can't believe I used high faluting in a comment.

  2. Vampires exist until destroyed. Their speech would be from their era and class. I did not find any words that would need a dictionary. Oh, good read, by the way.

  3. I can't believe you used highfalutin, either, William LOL!

    And thanks, Mari!


Talk To Me...

Colder Than Mt. Everest? Maybe

This past week of January 29-31, 2019, we here in the Midwest were coldest place on earth, including Antarctica, Mount Everest, and ev...