Recently, I sent a new manuscript to several beta readers. As is usual with the readers I choose, they offered comments and suggestions for which I'm very grateful. But one particular issue common to all of them was their comments about a couple words I used. Yes, they were 'made-up' words, but then our entire vocabulary consists of made-up words. They all began somewhere.
So one of the sentences mentioned was the following:
On the underground market the boots would fetch enough distris to buy an entire herd of shnormies.
They questioned 'distris'. Why not use coins instead? Prior to this point in the book I had described shnormies (a riding beast), but I didn't explain distris because I thought the meaning was clear from the sentence. I submit that if this book was placed in Regency England, the proper names for coinage would be used with no further explanation.
Deducing word meaning from the context was how I learned to read. Is this no longer taught in school? We didn't own a dictionary when I was very young. I was expected to figure it out by adding up the clues in the text.
So here's my question--are we as romance writers dumbing down our writing? Are we so anxious to be everything to everyone that we're nobody to anybody? Am I the only one who enjoys books that stretch my imagination and mental muscles? And how far are we prepared to go to appeal to everyone? Not all readers want to read a book that appeals to the lowest denominator.
Vocabulary and imagination shouldn't need to be sacrificed so we can appeal to every possible reader. I believe if the story is well written and engaging, it will reach the readers who will enjoy and appreciate it the most.
What say you?