Saturday, October 15, 2016


by H. Linn Murphy

I have been very lax lately. This is only two months and two weeks late. Life has taken a much busier turn. End of excuses...;o)

So I went to a class on dialogue when at ANWACon16. I'm always up for better dialogue. However, there's at least one point I hope to contest:

The lecturer said, "You need to dump all accents and slang of the period and use only the way a person says something to indicate that person's difference."

What? I asked myself while pondering all the work I'd just done on my brand new d├ębutante work.

She somehow missed my look of abject horror amidst the sea of faces and blithely continued her journey, which otherwise offered some outstanding ideas.

"We're supposed to get, from sentence length, that Juan is from Ecuador and not Minnesota?" I asked myself under my breath.

"I think that's absurd," I told my seat partner (SP), later. "When I read a book with a handsome Scotsman in it, I hope to find a few dinna's and oots. I think portraying a Regency belle with completely modern language is silly. It makes no sense to me to have my valley girl speak the same way as my starship ensign. A character needs to have their distinct way of speaking, or it isn't believable."

SP agreed. "Of course you don't use the same words for a child as you would an adult, among other things." 

I might have plowed into the runway in a massive conflagration if not for her acknowledgement, and that of several editors and other great books I've read.

"There are, however, exceptions," I said. "Or maybe I'm taking exception and this isn't part of it. Don't use language that takes the reader out of the book. Read your work out loud to someone who doesn't think the sun shines from each of your orifices. If they get confused or lose interest, think of a better way to convey what you want to say."

SP's smile warmed my heart. "I like that. I too was worried about this problem."

"Your words have to work," I said. And it's true.

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