Sorry for the couple of days of not posting. I had some computer issues and felt too lazy to try to post from my iPad.
I’ve been reading the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I started at the first one, and am up to the fourth in the series. I remember reading and loving these stories as a kid, and it’s no different now. One of the things I like about the books is that they detail how to do things that must have been standard back then, like making head cheese or building a log cabin. I’m not a history fan per se, but I do enjoy history in this context.
It makes me think about how I’ve read writing advice that warns writers not to make their books “dated.” Being “dated” is one of the reasons I like these books. Before I go off on a tangent, I highly recommend them. Yes, they’re appropriate for children, but they’re also interesting for adults.
Back to the whole “being dated” thing. Events don’t occur in a vacuum. Speech, slang, customs, food, hairstyles, and clothing change over time, and all these things put a story in context. I can guarantee that the Little House on the Prairie books would be different if the family was used to eating McDonalds and couldn’t get it, as opposed to hunting and growing their own food. “Drat” was practically cursing back then.
My point is that if a book is going to stand the test of time, it’s probably going to be at least in part because of the context of the book, not in spite of it. If Huckleberry Finn weren’t tied to a particular time period, would it still be as good? I understand why the caution not to use slang, but let’s face it… a reader can figure out slang in context. In the TV series Battlestar Galactica, they changed the primary expletive to the more TV friendly “frak.” We all knew what that replaced.
So, what do you think about slang and “dating” modern fiction? Yay or nay?