Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Red Shirts Are Coming

I did not make the finals in the Palm Street Film’s contest.  I was not surprised and I’m not especially upset about it, they had a very specific purpose in hosting the contest so I knew it was going to be even more subjective than usual and it’s one I entered on a whim rather than by strategy.

And there’s the whole “rejection is a part of writing” thing.  I’m much more interested in the Charlottesville contest.  And now that CWA has extended their deadline I’m wondering if I should give it a go.  They offer coverage like BlueCat which is good, but it’s a very pricey entry.  And then there’s Austin.  Next year for Austin.

Today I’d like to take another look at jargon.  I’ve been reading Daphne’s book about writing and in it she cautions against using jargon in your writing.  “It’s not clear in many cases.  You are being presumptuous about your readers.”  That’s not bad advice.  But jargon exists for a reason and if you are communicating with a peer group instead of writing an article for a mass market publication, it’s very efficient use of your writing space and audience attention span.

To wit, yesterday I was part of a discussion that centered on needing “a fifth man” but not “wanting to add a character.”  Early in someone suggested using a “red shirt” which was brilliant.  We all knew exactly what was being talked about and it met the requirements.  Jargon.

What is a red shirt?  Why he’s the member of the boarding party that doesn’t get beamed back to the ship.  Because he’s vaporized/transformed/eaten by a giant spider-fly-amoeba-plant/fallen in love with an alien.  From Star Trek.

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