Is grass..err just grass?

Over the weekend I had an absolutely blinding idea for a first paragraph and the next few following (or at least so I believe).

However with it came a train of thought that made it less simple than originally thought.

Without going into detail I suddenly felt that by having a primative setting I might not be able to use basic terminology to describe what the protagonst saw as it had to be attributable to him. Ironically the problem was …..grass!

Do I just describe it as ‘grass’, as that is how the protagonist would think of it even through the terminology would be different? Or do i try and be clever and alienate (possibly) the reader?

This is of course always a probem when any writer tries to write from an ‘alien’ POV. Now I have no plans to create a new language here (how lazy is that?), but I do want to try and authenticate to a degree.

Point is that this is probably 5 pages max of intro, maybe less. Is it worth the hassle or do i try and be really clever and run a parallel storyline giving some very old back story?

13 Responses to “Is grass..err just grass?”

  1. Moko Says:

    So, you’re wasted?.

  2. havock21 Says:

    hmmmcaled it…” HAVOCK PLANT”…

  3. Nautilus Says:

    Ah, yeah! Ummmmmm

  4. lermontov Says:


  5. Dr Yobbo Says:

    Stop smoking that which you are describing, Chaz.

    Serious (attempt at an) answer – if you’re describing an alien landscape so unfamiliar to the explorer that he has no words to describe even something as simple as grass, you’ll end up spending vast quantities of space describing every unfamiliar thing they come across and may find you piss your audience off fairly swiftly.

  6. chazfh Says:

    Dr Y, actually what i’m trying to get accross is that to us grass is just grass but to say a neolithic hunter it could be ‘thing that deer eat’

  7. bondiboy66 Says:

    Sometimes a rose is just a rose.

  8. Therbs Says:

    I reckon those cavemen just called it grass, or “that green stuff which food eats.” It’d be a diffcult thing for the reader. I can see how you want the POV to work but I reckon you’re probably best off just using familiar terms.

  9. chazfh Says:

    Therbs thanks thats what I was thinking (being a lazy bugger), as for the rest of you “Hey! hey!” beckons

  10. Flinthart Says:

    I wouldn’t use “grass” if the character’s seriously alien. But a word like “ground-cover” works.

  11. chazfh Says:

    Dirk not alien just primative. Guess i shouldn’t have used the phrase even in parenthesis.

  12. hughesy Says:

    You could give them a scanner in the middle of their foreheads that translates into the vocab of a future earth time in which the entire world speaks Englsih and calls what they are scanning grass?

    UhOh, just saw the last comment.

    So, um, the primitives FIND an alien scanner etc etc…

  13. chazfh Says:

    hughsey, funny you should say that……..the last comment i mean.

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