Monday, February 27, 2012

Keeping Dialect in Check

He sat a spell, chompin’ on chaw an’ whittlin’ a chunk ‘o hick’ry into a fine set of longhorns.


Quick! What can you tell about the character of the above sentence? I would guess he is likely an American who resides in a rural part of Texas, perhaps an aging cowboy on a ranch somewhere in the hill country. He didn’t describe the house, but I imagine him in a rocker on the porch of a faded white clapboard farmhouse overlooking land that’s been in his family for generations. I can even hear cattle lowing in the distance and see a vivid orange-pink-blue sunset ablaze on the horizon. All that from one sentence spoken in rich dialect.

Adding dialect to your fiction expands the imagery without “telling” your reader what you see in your head. It paints a picture without using adjectives. It authenticates not only the setting but also the personalities of your characters. If your reader can “hear” the speaker’s and/or the characters’ voices, he will be pulled right into the story and won’t want to leave the action until he turns the final page.

Dialect can be overdone, though. Imagine reading an entire book written like that opening sentence. The thought of it hurts my eyes! I recently read a novel set in 16th century Scotland that was almost as heavy with Scottish brogue as that line is with Texas twang. The author did a marvelous job keeping consistency throughout, and the dialect did accentuate the setting and the characters. However, I found it distracting to have the entire novel in an altered language. I found myself skimming words that were difficult to pronounce and rolling my eyes at some character interactions. I really wanted to like the book, but too much dialect knocked my opinion down several notches.

Writing dialect is tricky. Keep it in check!

Protected by Copyscape Original Content Checker

Monday, February 20, 2012

Puppy Clumsy

We have a seven-month-old miniature dachshund named Slinky. He’s absolutely adorable! He loves to romp and wrestle and chew. Our other two dogs have gotten a lot more exercise since he arrived, and when the three of them play together, it’s quite amusing to watch.

Slinky is puppy clumsy. He bats his big ole paws and nudges his velvety nose at his playmates, then tromps right over top of them until they nip back. He rolls over them, scoots under them, jabs at their ears. Doesn’t matter if there’s an obstacle (or a person) in the way; he charges right across. Long drop from the sofa? No problem, he slinks right down like his namesake toy.

Slinky is all play with no inhibition.

Don’t you long to be that way when you write? I sure do! No holding back. I just want to let thoughts flow freely from the creative recesses of my mind. I want stories to nudge me and tromp through my thoughts until I nab them. I want the words to roll over my mind, scoot under the internal editor, and jab my listening ear. I want those ideas to charge right out and slink onto the blank page. I want to be puppy clumsy!

Protected by Copyscape Original Content Checker
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Writer

If you are reading this blog, you are not normal. Nope. Not at all. Because you are a writer. Please allow me to introduce you to, well, you.

You hear voices. Characters whisper in your ear. You see them too. The intricate beadwork on her gown, the plush velvet cape, those pearls…his killer blue eyes. They tease you with tidbits and tales until you relent to recording their rendezvous.

You organize. OK, to some people that might look like one big mess, but all those Post-It Notes stuck on the wall are really an intricate storyboard detailing each plot and scheme.

You persevere. You must. You cannot stop until you’ve written every last detail. If you leave your characters hanging, they may, like Pirandello's Six Characters, seek out another storyteller.

You obsess. You could edit to infinity. This verb is stronger than that one. Show, don’t tell! Torque, morph, develop, improve. Master. Submit.

You bite your nails. You sweat. Waiting to hear from that editor or agent, you’ve paced a rut in your hardwood floor.

You have tough skin. More than one rejection has taught you this publishing game’s not personal. “Your piece doesn’t fit our market.” “That subject just isn’t selling right now.” “This is very well written, but…” You send it out again.

You come back for more. Again and again. You get knocked down, but you get up again and you keep on going, because you know you have a message to deliver to someone out there, and you are the one who’s been called to task.

No, there’s nothing normal about you. And I pray that never changes, my friend.

Protected by Copyscape Original Content Checker

This sums it up ;)

This sums it up ;)