I confess every time someone said something positive or negative about a book, I instantly ran my mind across my own work to see if I got a tick or a cross. Someone mentioned they didn't like to see, "OK." In 2 minutes I'd done a global search across three manuscripts and confirmed I was clean. Phew!
Yes, the paranoia of a debut author knows no bounds.
One thing in particular which came up I thought I'd comment on: appropriate voice for characters speaking thousands of years ago. How do you make it sound credible? It's a tough problem. The options are:
- Write everything in Attic Greek. This scores points for accuracy but limits the print run to single digits.
- Write everything in a manufactured old tone, to give the feeling it was spoken long ago. This inevitably ends up sounding faux-mediaeval, faux-Shakespearean, or faux-epic-fantasy. Worse, the old tone is no more accurate than modern vernacular, because people just didn't speak like that.
- Go for totally modern colloquial English. This gives the image of Socrates walking into the room and saying, "Hey bro, watcha doin'?" No. Although in some ways it would be more authentic than the fake old tone, because at least we are saying in current English what was spoken in current Attic Greek. The problem is, colloquialism associates the speaker with a modern cultural grouping which is entirely wrong.
- Write more formal English avoiding anachronisms and anything which associates the language with modern culture. This is the way forward.
By that logic, is "OK" okay? Personally I wouldn't use it, but instead I use "Alright". I can't actually think of a reason why "OK" should be banned, it just doesn't feel right to me.