Welcome to my guide on how to write technobabble! Every post will start with one letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, and cover tips and ideas for all you writers of sci-fi. Whether you’re writing about near-future science fiction, far-flung alien worlds, or historical steampunk adventures filled with advanced technology that never was – these posts are designed to help you write convincing and unique tech for your story!
J is for Jargon
Jargon is a cornerstone of science fiction technobabble. “Jargon” are the vocabulary and phrases particular to a specific industry or group. There’s military jargon, medical jargon, and even for us authors—there’s writerly jargon.
Technobabble jargon can be fun to create, and is a great way to add rich details to flesh out your world. There’s no real right or wrong way to write jargon, especially if you’re inventing names from scratch or creating your own unique slang for your world and its tech. There are a few guidelines, though, that can make your tech jargon easier for your readers.
First of all, don’t overdo the jargon. Too much jargon can be like too much slang or overly-heavy written accents—that is, difficult to read. Heavy jargon can slow the story down or trip up the reader. Jargon and slang are great for world-building, but if people have to read a paragraph three times to figure out what a character is saying, then it might be too much.
Genre-specific jargon is also important to keep in mind. For example, the show Stargate: SG1 uses a lot of military jargon, especially related to weaponry, because the main characters are members of the US Air Force. A steampunk alternate history story would probably use very different jargon—old-fashioned phrases, more words derived from “steam” or “gear” or “clockwork,” or other historical scientific words.
Have fun with your jargon, but keep the bulk of your prose in plain old English (or whatever language you’re writing in), so that your readers can stay in the flow of your story.