J – Jargon

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…



Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


The sun was setting and Hawk wanted to get some fishing in before nightfall. He returned to the pier after a nice long stretch in the sun with Dropsy, during which they talked about their lives, hopes, dreams, fears, and that one time Hawk got his head stuck in a staircase railing because his cousin bet him ten bucks he wouldn’t do it. Dropsy seemed to understand that kids did stupid things sometimes, even though he was twenty-five when it happened, and he loved her for it.

Dropsy swam around the pier as Hawk prepared himself for a hardcore fishing session. He only needed a light action rod in these gentle waters, and he attached a chugger and bell sinker to it, slapped a bit of attractant on his hook along with a fat dilly, and checked his phone to find out the creel limit.

He back casted the line gracefully into the gleaming eutrophic waters. Maybe he’d catch a pike or a parr, a striped bass or a sun trout. He could catch just about anything with the vast and sophisticated array of bait and lures he used—artificial, bobbers, cowbells, crankbait, curly tails, deer-hair bugs, loose-action plugs, shads, stick bait, tail-spinners, weedless, and of course, good old fashioned worms. His tackle box was a box of wonders.

“We’ll eat good tonight,” he told Dropsy. “I’m going to cook you up the best fish fry you’ve ever had.” It was the least he could do for her. After all, she’d saved his drowning spirit.


Jargon consists of specific names, details, slang, and expressions used by professions, groups, and hobbyists to describe the tricks of their trade. Of course you want to learn all about what your characters are into, including the words and phrases they use—or maybe you already know. However, you can’t assume all your readers will know the jargon surrounding a character’s field or passion, especially if it’s obscure. If you just rattle off jargon, you’re either going to have confused readers or ones who are frustrated and have to Google what the hell you’re talking about every page or so.

There’s plenty of ways to work jargon into a story if it’s wholly necessary: you can simply explain it when it comes up, or have the character explain it to someone else, or you can use layman’s terms when appropriate. Plenty of crime and lawyer-based fiction, as well as medical fiction, manages to engage readers who aren’t detectives and lawyers and doctors, because the authors keep things simple and explain terminology when necessary. Also, like everything else in fiction, it’s never a great idea to dump a whole bunch of unusual information at once. If you’re creative enough, you might teach readers something new.

I did, for example, learn a great deal about fishing while researching this entry.


It was brought to my attention yesterday I’ve accidentally been calling Dropsy ‘Topsy’ now and then. I’ve gone through and corrected my posts, both past and future, to fix my duh-ness.

Author: Megan Morgan

Paranormal and contemporary romance author.

33 thoughts

  1. But… is it a good idea to offer fried fish to a mermaid?

    The matter of jargon, like any other specific languages (such as dialects and slangs) is quite tricky. On the one hand, it makes the telling more authentic and can even create more atmosphere. I think that anything that adds details to the story is worth using.
    But on the other hand, the more specific the Language, the likelier the reader won’t understand it.

    It’s a fine balance, I think, but one that’s worth finding 🙂


    1. I guess you got your answer in the next post! 😀

      That’s very true. It’s sometimes hard to figure out how much to put in, how much to explain, how much is too much, how much makes it authentic and how much is confusing…argh! I thought writing was supposed to be easy! 😉


  2. Interesting to know how open Dropsy would be for “fishing” in general and eating “fish fries” in particular !! As always, brilliant read, great learning and most important of it all, a big big laugh ! Thanks for the entertainment !!

    My I and J are part of a series (not sure a short story ? more than 3000 words already..), would love your time and thoughts on these two.. I * Ink and J * Jasmine !!

    @Subhmohanty from
    And Life Unfolds…

    A * Alone >> B * Butterfly >> C * Curry >> D * Dance >> E * Edge >> F * Forest >> G * Grin >> H * Homecoming >> I * Ink >> J * Jasmine >>


  3. I love this theme – what a fun way to approach it!
    Jargon is always a challenge – I write a lot of fantasy, so I have to deal with a similar issue in explaining something that’s commonplace for the characters, but completely foreign to the reader. An interesting challenge, to be sure.


    1. I always find it a challenge to impart details about non-standard knowledge to the readers, especially in a creative and non-obtrusive way. But, that’s why I write, so I can learn how to do these things better–I’ve found the method of having one character explain it to another indeed seems to be the best.

      Liked by 1 person

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