Two days + One Word = 48 Hours of Frustration.
I spent two days on one word: tabloid. The word made it to my third draft and as I toiled on that fourth draft the word grabbed me. It’s a fine word if you’re a thirty something mother of four, an example of me intruding on my protagonist’s story. She’s a seventeen year old girl and she hated the word. It’s not something she would say. I thought back,back, back to when I was that age. I wouldn’t have said tabloid either. My mom used to read romance novels; my teen self called them “mom’s kissing in the wind books.”
I decided to consult the experts. I started with my in-house target audience: my daughter. “What would you call those magazines about celebrities in the grocery check out? She looked at me like I was nuts. She’s always sceptical when I approach her with odd hypothetical questions. She knows it’s for a book. “I don’t know.”
Well, that was unhelpful, so I went to my second source. My husband’s work requires him to have an ear to the ground for youth culture. I threw the question out to him. He informed me that teens don’t read those magazines. They get their “news” online and talked about a flat world. Ah, yes. Israel invades Gaza. News. Kim Kardashian leaves her husband. News. But, it’s not my protagonist reading the tabloid, it’s her mother. And she thinks they’re low brow (also not a term she’d use), but I was still left with the question: what would she call them?
I played with different ideas–synonyms, antonyms, and an internet search to find names of different tabloids and still nothing seemed quite right. After two days of thought I finally found the phrase I was looking for. What is it? It’s something unique to my character, it’s how she thinks and in the words she thinks in. I’m on the hunt for more of these words so I can toss them. Hopefully they all won’t take so long to resolve.