Double Helix is a talent. That means he has an unusual ability that sets him far, far apart from the majority of other people. Specifically, he’s a heatsink, a talent that lets him reverse the normal tendency of heat to spread out, but only in a set area. He works for Project Sumter, a branch of the government that handles threats to the public safety from talents of all stripes. He works with getmen, tac teams, specialized equipment and dozens of other federal, state and local government organizations with their own names or abbreviations to keep straight.
Open Circuit is also a talent, one known as a fusebox, with the ability to feel electrical potential and force circuits open and closed, an ability from which his name is derived. In addition, he’s a computer savant, and fluent in all the accompanying techspeak that goes with that field of study, and an electrical engineer with an interest in hydroelectricity and the accompanying architectural challenges.
That’s a lot of terms to juggle, and that’s without bringing the other kinds of talents in Project Sumter’s archives into it, not to mention the fact that each individual talented person gets their own code name, which they’re supposed to use in place of their real name whenever they can. Not to mention the bureaucrat-speak that goes with anything run by the government.
Not to mention the legalese.
Now I love technical terms. Using them makes you sound smart, tends to impress people who know what they mean and can tell that you’ve used them correctly and generally lets you get away with using fewer words to describe a situation than you would otherwise. The problem with jargon is, not everyone knows what it means.
For a writer like myself who loves to jargonize* words, that can be a problem. You see, as often as not a reader who doesn’t know what most of the words in a piece mean tends to stop reading, rather than look them up.
Gone are the days when Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky would be something most people could enjoy. Now, it’s just meaningless garbage that people ignore in favor of their texting shorthand (infinitely more comprehensible, apparently). Not that I’m getting up on a soapbox here…
Ahem. Finding the right level of jargon to let readers follow along yet still let your characters sound informed, reliable and smart about the subjects they’re talking about is a challenge. Your best bet is probably to write the technical dialog out, define as much of it as makes sense in the current context, then try to cut the amount of jargon you use in half. Then run the whole segment by a test reader who has never looked at anything about your piece before.
Then cut the jargon in half again.
Hopefully, by that point you’ll be good to go!
Most importantly, don’t become over attached to any piece of jargon, whether it’s something you’ve cooked up or a real, technical term. Sometimes it’s more important to keep things comprehensible than to sound as authentic as possible.
*Jargonize: 1) Verb, the act of taking a word and assigning it an unusual and/or technical meaning.
2) Verb, to take a word and add a technical sounding suffix such as “ize” or “ium” to it, thus creating a technical term.