The Perfect Word

I love finding and using in a story that perfect word, the one tiny word that communicates more than it seems. Let me give you an example from WITCHY EYE, my forthcoming epic fantasy (Baen, March 2017). From a confrontation between the Appalachee Elector “Iron” Andy Calhoun and the Imperial House Light Dragoons, the so-called Philadelphia Blues, here’s Iron Andy:

“I didn’t sign the Compact to take John Penn as my king, you ignoramus! I signed it to tell him iffen he ever got too big for his britches, we’d throw him on out and elect us someone new! As for Thomas Penn, Hell, I voted against that Chaldee numbskull!”

Andrew Calhoun calls the Emperor Thomas Penn a Chaldee; this word does triple duty.

First, it communicates Andy’s Biblical worldview (see, e.g., Genesis 11:8, in the King James translation). Second, what Andy is really calling Thomas (not unfairly, as it happens), is an astrologer. Third, rooted in Andy’s view of his own homeland as limited to the mountains of Appalachee and reflecting the fragmented nature of the Empire, Andy is tarring the Emperor as a foreigner. He’s playing to the gallery of his own kin, listening keenly as they squint down their Kentucky long rifles at the Imperials who have a warrant to take away their cousin.

About David

I'm a writer. This is my blog.
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