so i just googled the phrase “toeing out of his shoes” to make sure it was an actual thing
it’s all fanfiction
which reminds me that i’ve only ever seen the phrase “carding fingers through his hair” and people describing things like “he’s tall, all lean muscle and long fingers,” like that formula of “they’re ____, all ___ and ____” or whatever in fic
idk i just find it interesting that there are certain phrases that just sort of evolve in fandom and become prevalent in fic bc everyone reads each other’s works and then writes their own and certain phrases stick
i wish i knew more about linguistics so i could actually talk about it in an intelligent manner, but yeah i thought that was kinda cool
Ha! Love it!
One of my fave authors from ages ago used the phrase “a little helplessly” (like “he reached his arms out, a little helplessly”) in EVERY fic she wrote. She never pointed it out—there just came a point where I noticed it like an Easter egg. So I literally *just* wrote it into my in-progress fic this weekend as an homage only I would notice. ❤
To me it’s still the quintessential “two dudes doing each other” phrase.
I think different fic communities develop different phrases too! You can (usually) date a mid 00s lj fic (or someone who came of age in that style) by the way questions are posed and answered in the narration, e.g. “And Patrick? Is not okay with this.” and by the way sex scenes are peppered with “and, yeah.” I remember one Frerard fic that did this so much that it became grating, but overall I loved the lj style because it sounded so much like how real people talk.
Another classic phrase: wondering how far down the _ goes. I’ve seen it mostly with freckles, but also with scars, tattoos, and on one memorable occasion, body glitter at a club. Often paired with the realization during sexy times that “yeah, the __ went all they way down.” I’ve seen this SO much in fic and never anywhere else
whoa, i remember reading lj fics with all of those phrases! i also remember a similar thing in teen wolf fics in particular – they often say “and derek was covered in dirt, which. fantastic.” like using “which” as a sentence-ender or at least like sprinkling it throughout the story in ways published books just don’t.
LINGUISTICS!!!! COMMUNITIES CREATING PHRASES AND SLANG AND SHAPING LANGUAGE IN NEW WAYS!!!!!!!
I love this. Though I don’t think of myself as fantastic writer, by any means, I know the way I write was shaped more by fanfiction and than actual novels.
I think so much of it has to do with how fanfiction is written in a way that feels real. conversations carry in a way that doesn’t feel forced and is like actual interactions. Thoughts stop in the middle of sentences.
The coherency isn’t lost, it just marries itself to the reader in a different way. A way that shapes that reader/writer and I find that so beautiful.
and it poses an intellectual question of whether the value we assign to fanfic conversational prose would translate at all to someone who reads predominantly contemporary literature. as writers who grew up on the internet find their way into publishing houses, what does this mean for the future of contemporary literature? how much bleed over will there be?
we’ve already seen this phenomenon begin with hot garbage like 50 shades, and the mainstream public took to its shitty overuse of conversational prose like it was a refreshing drink of water. what will this mean for more wide-reaching fiction?
I’m sure someone could start researching this even now, with writers like Rainbow Rowell and Naomi Novik who have roots in fandom. (If anyone does this project please tell me!) It would be interesting to compare, say, a corpus of a writer’s fanfic with their published fiction (and maybe with a body of their nonfiction, such as their tweets or emails), using the types of author-identification techniques that were used to determine that J.K. Rowling was Robert Galbraith.
One thing that we do know is that written English has gotten less formal over the past few centuries, and in particular that the word “the” has gotten much less frequent over time.
In an earlier discussion, Is French fanfic more like written or spoken French?, people mentioned that French fanfic is a bit more literary than one might expect (it generally uses the written-only tense called the passé simple, rather than the spoken-only tense called the passé composé). So it’s not clear to what extent the same would hold for English fic as well – is it just a couple phrases, like “toeing out of his shoes”? Are the google results influenced by the fact that most published books aren’t available in full text online? Or is there broader stuff going on? Sounds like a good thesis project for someone!
Interesting stuff about fanfiction language patterns!