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In my story there are some words in there that even Grammarly couldn't understand, but they make sense in the story. They're slang, or things teenagers might say.

Here is an example of what I am talking about:

Hank was wearing his sweatpants and a flimsy t-shirt, Haku wore his white gym shorts and a light yellow tank top that said “#THUG LYFE” on it. Tim smirked at the youth, wishing he were that young again. A sudden realization occurred to him. That he had never told Haku about why he respected his father so much. “Boy, I have a story for you, but when you are done cooking you may hear it. You might want to sit down for it, it’s a very long story,” he said. Haku looked excited for the story, his eyes flashed a sincere curiosity for a moment.

And another:

“Whoa, what’s up with the old timey funstuffs?” asked Haku. He reached up to touch the gate and it opened on its own. Almost like it knew he was there. As Ryu walked behind his friend, there was an obvious atmosphere that Haku didn’t notice. Not right away, at least.

Is it ok to use fake words like that?

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    I'm not sure what the question is here. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Jun 20 '17 at 21:28
  • @ThomasMyron what he really wants to know is if it okay to use slang/words not in the dictionary. For Example... LYFE is not one.... Though that seems to be the only odd word out as everything else appears to be a valid dictionary word. I believe this is a repeat question though... I know recently we have several questions popping up about using slang and pop culture. The question feels a bit empty to me to be honest :/ – ggiaquin16 Jun 20 '17 at 22:40
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    @AspenRand, I don't mean to sound harsh bud, but many of the questions you have been asking feel like borderline critiques and often lack effort. Please keep in mind that this isn't an informal forum but rather a place where you can go to that contains a collection of questions and in depth answers. The goal is that in 20 years, writers can go back and use the answers still because it isn't specifically about their writing but general writing tips. Please try to search through questions asked before asking, as this question has been answered several times with various re-wording. – ggiaquin16 Jun 20 '17 at 22:55
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    I was actually just googling and ended up clicking on a link to Writers SE, ironically, of a question asked almost 2 years ago providing a very in-depth answer to my question. As I have said to you in many of my answers to you, google is a great tool to use. When I was a Junior Developer, my Senior Developer gave me a great tip of advice I would like to share with you: Spend at least 30 minutes googling when ever you have a question. If at that point, you still don't have your answer, show me what you found and I will help you out. – ggiaquin16 Jun 20 '17 at 22:55
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    At the very least, spending that much time in google on the topic allows for you to write better questions that have more substance to them. You have references and maybe even acquired some knowledge that may or may not make sense to you. That is where we come in... I read on xxxx site that it says slang is NEVER okay to use in writing... which confuses me because I want to use slang to denote someone's age/education/culture/social group. Would it be acceptable in that situation? If not, how can I go about demonstrating those things without using slang? – ggiaquin16 Jun 20 '17 at 23:07
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As far as what you are looking for, I found in google with a few seconds of googling "is it okay to use slang in writing" a link to this page. As with most things, using slang takes a bit of tact. too much of it can sound childish (which was another question of yours) but you may want to use enough to get the point across still. Is there a reason for the slang? Often times slang is used to depict culture/lack of education/being from certain regions. If the slang is thrown in just for the sake of it, I would advise NOT to unless it is relevant to the story.

It seems in your case, the youthful term #ThugLyfe triggers a memory that leads into a flashback story and it does appear to have a purpose.

The "Old timey funstuff" might be better left as:

"what is up with all this fun stuff?" Haku playfully jeered.

In this case, there seems to be little relevance to adding slang unless you are using it to denote reasons as mentioned above and it would come off as less childish. Adding that it was playful and jeered, let's the reader know it was said in a certain tone and gives the reader's imagination the ability to play with those words.

I also found this link which should help give you some understanding about slang/idioms/jargon.

Again, I would advise caution when using slang as it can be off-putting to readers if they feel the story is too childish/too slangy so make sure you do it with purpose and not just thrown in for the sake of it.

  • +1 good link resources here, especially on jargon. – Erin Thursby Jun 21 '17 at 4:00
  • "what is up with all this fun stuff?" Haku playfully jeered." this is a significant re-write of the text excerpt given by the OP: you changed even the dialog tag. I am sure, you can re-write that whole story just to illustrate your point, but it is hardly a way to help the person. – Lew Jun 21 '17 at 14:06
  • @Lew, yea I understand it is a total rewrite of his original sentence. I was struggling to keep what he wanted intact but I was also crunched for time and thought that what I did was enough to at least show the point I was trying to make. Also, I didn't just rewrite that sentence. I provided my thinking into why I wrote it the way I did. If he doesn't like it, that's fine :) – ggiaquin16 Jun 21 '17 at 15:26
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Is it ok to use fake words like that?

If you are making up the culture, that is fine. Slang changes, year by year and city by city, all over the world. Some sticks longer than others, some even become part of the language (like "cool"). Others fade out ("the bees knees" used to mean very cool).

Part of what makes them stick is brevity in speech, single syllable words that are quick and easy to say (few mouth or tongue movements) slang sticks better than multi-syllabic slang. "Hot" for "sexually attractive" is likely to stick, "Cool" for "interesting, awesome, fascinating" is too. But that isn't a concrete rule by any means. "Fuhgeddaboudit" ["forget about it"] is still popular, "Tots" ["totally"] may be on the wane.

"Funstuffs" doesn't sound like slang. Say this in slow motion and notice how much work your mouth and tongue must do, compared to the simpler work of "cool" or "hot". It also saves no time from "fun stuff", is not easier to say, and is not an imaginative or interesting take on what it is supposed to represent. One purpose of slang is to form a "private language" for a group, that makes them different than outsiders (and helps identify outsiders).

Made up T-Shirts, made up spellings, advertisements are fine.

It can do two things for you: First, it can be entertaining to readers. Second, it can immunize your work against changes in slang, which are inevitable. Every group of teens everywhere, as part of their biological urge to gain independence from their parents (so they can start love lives and mating without repercussions), will form a culture with language they know and adults do not: The modern version is abbreviated acronymics in texts that are easier to say (or type) and become words themselves (eg LOL).

This means using REAL slang is likely to "date" your book (or work), it can seem "old fashioned" and boring. Original slang that you invent won't seem that way, to each reader it will seem like new slang, which is better than out of date slang.

If your slang is not instantly understandable (and it should not necessarily be to seem like slang, remember adults are supposed to be confused or unaware of what is being said), have your adult of the time "translate" it by restatement.

"Wow, what's with all the deadgear?"
"It's old but it works. Come on in."

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It depends on your audience. Is it teens? Teens' parents? Or is it about teens but for an adult audience whove had those same experience? For one and two, yes. If you know the proper way to speak "thug, " and it will help you relate to the reader, go for it with the huge caveat that the quickest way to lose a teen reader is to embarrass yourself by trying to use slang to look cool or when an adult uses it to describe themselves. They get embarrassed about so many things, especially parents who believe they are cool but aren't. Nail it if your audience is the group of people using the slang. Otherwise, don't. #ThugLyfe is perfectly acceptable. What else would you say? "That gentleman sitting over there with the pound sign on his t-shirt and a funny little saying."?

If you are using slang to shame a person or group, then absolutely not. As for knowing your audience, I say that because I stopped reading a story the other day because of this. I'm in my thirties and even I was embarrassed. She is in her latter thirties and was telling a story about conflict with landlords and advice for younger people facing that. All was great until she said, "my landlord wasn't on the up and up." Completely okay to say under 21 years of age but saying it as a grown adult took away her reliability in my eyes. She is my age and works a 9-5 job in a professional office like me and we are both white females who live in fairly nice areas.

Saying "up and up" implied that she knows what teens do and she is savvy to their street game. Okay, no. If you wear JCrew preppy blazers and Frye riding boots and post a picture on Pinterest of your outfit every morning while holding a Starbucks with a matching scarf, you do not know anyone who is on the "up and up." The audience was adults and young teens. I would've taken to it better if she said, "We used to say 'he wasn't on the up and up.'"

That way, she wouldn't alienate teens by assuming she knows what they are doing. We were all teens, and parents rarely knew everything we did. She would also keep the attention of the older audience by showing her life now is as she presents it but she was cool at one point. Humility goes a long way but don't take it to the point of self shame.

I created this account just to answer this question because I've had to balance this very question as well. The most important thing is to show respect for your readers in whatever way you think that might be. I was sad to see a couple of answers scold you when you asked for advice. Scolding someone in the creative process can really alienate people, especially women against women. I just wanted you or anyone reading this to know there is no guidebook. And, if you refer to Urban Dictionary to see what terms mean, please for the love of God remember that teens write fake definitions sometimes hoping someone takes the bait. I have to admit it is extremely funny, but just be warned! Good luck in your endeavors.

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It depends. If you freely write something, everything is fine. If you are writing something though that is targeting a specific audience, you should start asking such questions. In your case, if your goal is to reach a big audience in general, there are people out there that they will like it and there are people that will hate it. The real question is, WHY do YOU want it in your text? Does it serve a specific purpose? Do you want to contain modern teenage cultures and subcultures for instance? If so go on. If you seek realism though, remember that when writing, you need to keep readers engaged to what they read. A realistic conversation of an alienating speech, displeases some audiences, so I strongly suggest to be careful with the extent of anything you are using. A few words here and there, with a little explanation will probably work nice.

But writting like a 1337 #swagger won't bring any PogChamp reactions really.

Check out what I just wrote. It feels uncanny. The rest of my reply flows like a river, while this sentence stands out like a fly floating in a dish filled with milk. In other words... ewww! Bottom line it's up to you. Measure what and how you are gonna use it. Hope my thoughts will help you out decide what to do.

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Read James Joyce's Ulysses and David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and realize that there are no rules.

There is no inherent problem with the excerpts you gave. The "slang" is appropriate and immediately describes the character quite successfully. Some people might warn you that you can overdo it, and that is certainly true... but if you overdo it with purpose and with confidence, it might turn out great exactly because of your different and fresh approach.

The one thing I would try to avoid is language that sounds as if an adult came up with it and put it into the mouth of a teenager. We immediately notice this because it usually sounds a bit too clever and a bit too forced. (There's a beautiful award in Germany for the "Youth word of the year", where everyone is certain that many of the winners have been made up. One such word is "smombie". It's a very clever portmanteau of "smartphone" and "zombie", you see, so it is a brilliant piece of social critique wrapped in a cool word that teenagers totally use all the time, in sentences such as "Dude, you're such a smombie, that's not rad bro".)

Edit: Just a clarification, the first sentence is a bit tongue-in-cheek. I agree with the other answers that advise caution. I just wanted to mention that two of my absolute favorite novels threw caution to the wind and ended up as masterpieces.

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In dialogue use whatever language represents that character. The language doesn't need to be understood by the reader, only the other characters. The majority of slang and made up words are easily understood in context.

The alternative is the unbelievable scenario where every teen character speaks the Queen's English.

I find it ironic that ggaquin advises against the use of slang and made up word but the proceeds to 'google' further information. Far from being 'childish' slang is a WIP for future dictionaries.

Much to Google's dismay google was adopted as a verb in 2006.

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    So you criticize me for using a word that is officially in the dictionary? Wow what a novelty – ggiaquin16 Jun 21 '17 at 1:18
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    He's not advising against it totally, just saying that TOO MUCH can be off-putting to a reader. In the comments he was saying that the question, as written wasn't well-researched or thought out. The author has since edited. The part where he says "I read on xxxx site that slang is NEVER okay to use in writing..." is actually supposed to be an example of how to ask the question. Being cautious when using slang isn't bad advice. – Erin Thursby Jun 21 '17 at 3:59

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