I just have to ask …

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.comIf we were having coffee, once we got all nice and settled into our (hopefully) comfy chairs, I’d have to ask you the question

 What question?
 Well, let me digress for just a moment.  The week began with me starting to work through the edits on my latest novel.  It’s only my second book, so the process is still a bit awkward for me.  I mean, I take direction and corrections quite well and, God knows, I, have, a, problem, with, commas.  But my editor zinged me on my use of what I thought was a common colloquial expression. 
My character, I said, ate with a coming appetite.  This was part of a narrative section.  
She retorted:  WHAT KIND OF APPETITE?
At first, I thought this was absurd, but I also trust my editor so I did some research.  I found only a few references, but at least there were some.  I was relieved to find out that it actually exists; I’m not totally crazy.  Heck, there is even a blog with “The Coming Appetite” as the title, but it was obviously not as common a phrase as I presumed. 
Perhaps it was regional, I thought.  I’m from Texas originally, so I asked on a popular Texas-oriented FaceBook page and my query generated an enthusiastic response.   Ninety-five percent of the responders had never heard of it. I was deflated.  Still, there were a few points of light.  
What is it supposed to mean?  It means you didn’t think you were very hungry and perhaps began to eat by just picking at your food but as you started eating you found you were hungrier than you thought, so your appetite comes on after  you begin eating.
 So … after another sip or two, I would ask the question:
Have YOU ever heard the expression?
 Oh, my character?  I rewrote the sentence … it turns out he was pretty hungry after all.
I’m not giving up on it, but I will likely work the term into dialogue somewhere, where it belongs.
Thomas Fenske
 P.S.  Keep an eye out for the new novel, A Curse That Bites Deep, due out this fall.
Oh, don’t worry, I’m sure to mention it over coffee sometime …
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10 thoughts on “I just have to ask …

  1. Thomas, not that I want to add fuel to your sense of rejection or anything but I haven’t heard of it either. Although, I’m Australian and thongs are something you were on your feet and we eat scones with jam and cream, biscuits taste awful with gravy and cookies are “American”.
    If you are aiming for an International readership, I’d keep colloquialisms to a minimum and even question their use in diologue. There’s a phrase that is at least well known here used in editing circles about “killing your darlings”. I’m afraid, given your emotional attachment to the phrase, that qualifies 200% and should be filed in your bottom drawer.
    However, I acknowledge that killing your darlings hurts and I share your pain!
    xx Rowena

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  2. I haven’t heard of it, either. However, I often come across interesting and unknown to me phrases when I read. Usually, they send me on a search to find their origin. Often they are regional. I would not refrain from using it but I might introduce it through dialog. For example, a character might use the phrase and have someone question the expression and then the first character can explain it.

    Or you can just use something like “increasing appetite” instead. My thought is that if I don’t want Readers to be distracted from my text, I don’t use phrases or words that might send them away from the text to search for meaning.

    It’s an interesting phrase. Good luck with editing and with getting over your “comma-itis!”

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  3. I am originally from West Virginia and currently live in Kentucky and I, to the best of my knowledge, have never heard that expression. It’s interesting, however, because you more than likely have heard it somewhere in your lifetime and it obviously made enough of an impression on you to stick. Out of curiosity, could you have picked it up from a grandparent? I have a few old-time, almost extinct Appalachian words in my vocabulary that no one in my family uses except for myself and my grandmother. One word in particular wasn’t used by any of my friends growing up, in high school, or even in college. My best friend’s dad once told me after I used the word that he hadn’t heard that word used since he was a kid, when his grandfather was still alive. Have a good one!

    Visiting from #weekendcoffeeshare

    Liked by 1 person

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