Tuesday, February 22, 2011

di·a·lect [dahy-uh-lekt]

The question of writing in dialect, particularly when it involves phonetic spellings, is usually answered emphatically, "NO! Don't do it."

Strictly following EVERY rule of writing [of course], I gave the parade lady (in my trilogy) the voice of a street version of a southern black Appalachian woman. As with most things in literary fiction that was an enigma. Later the reader understands who that woman really is and her message (role) in the story.

I've seen dialect done extremely well by Jewell Parker Rhodes in her Douglass' Women. She did a reading (by memory) that totally silenced the room. I would dare anyone to tell Jewell not to write in dialect. She did it masterfully.

Historically, the grand master of dialect is Mark Twain. Recently there was the [misguided] notion to sanitize Mark Twain's writing and remove the offensive N-word [and a bit more].

Having heard several stage productions (by Hal Holbrook) of Mr Clemens' essays, I'd doubt he would go along with such a project. He didn't treat any subject delicately, and his writing would not be immune from his brisk no-nonsense opinions either.

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. Mark Twain

"Fixing" Mark Twain's writing would make as much sense as "fixing" Shakespear. (Who comes up with these ideas?)

Like anything in fiction writing, dialect has to be a justifiable part of the story. And, it has to be done extremely well.

Catch this link, it is what started me thinking on this topic: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2011/02/20/fans-love-scots-writer-s-e-book-but-can-t-understand-slang-86908-22937251

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bragging Rights...

Glyn Pope certainly has bragging rights about his novel, The Doctor, The Plutocrat, and The Mendacious Minister.

A quote from BBC radio has been added to the back cover of his book.

RICH IN ATMOSPHERE and the colour of the time, all the characters in Glyn Pope's novel are alive. This is a true reflection of life in a certain suburb of Leicester in the English East Midlands, but the themes are universal. This could well be your neighbourhood facing the challenges of a changing world at the end of the 2nd World War. Enjoyable and challenging.
Stephen Butt, BBC Radio

Today, there is an article about "Doc" in the local newspaper, the Leicester Mercury. Follow the link. http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/news/New-novel-recalls-post-war-blues/article-3233498-detail/article.html

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More on editing...

I love that Glynis, in Cypress, is only person who dared to comment on the last post. Cheers to you, Glynis!

Being a huge fan of Jacqueline Kennedy, I love that she spent 20 years as an editor. I can imagine her sense of style as she midwife'd a manuscript into a masterpiece of literature.

Read the article below and let me know what you think? Would you let (or have you let) someone take a serious hand in the development of your manuscript-to-book? Please post a comment on what it is like to let go enough to let someone mess with your baby. I know it is difficult.

That midwifery is a given for Cactus Rain Publishing, LLC's books. I'm very fast to send packing any author not willing to take direction, since I do (as it turns out) know a thing or two about this industry. I'll content edit a chapter or two before we mention the word contract. I am way past the hand-holding part of life, and all about business when it comes to producing a book that I will put my [Italian made] logo on the cover.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Anything is possible

There is a freeze advisory for the central Arizona deserts tonight and the next few days. The palm trees took a hit earlier this winter, but this is the deep freeze. Many of the houses in my neighborhood have adorned their most precious plants with blankets and towels. My yard is the same. The expected low tonight is 24F, freezing is 32F.

When the boys were younger we would look at things in nature, particularly sunsets and cloud formations, and discuss how if they were in a painting just as they were - they would not look real.

That is a question writers need to ask constantly as they edit and rewrite their manuscripts. "Does this seem real?"

Some people think their life story is memoir worthy. Frankly, memoirs by unknown people rarely sell more than a handful of copies. There are tragic moments most of us have endured and risen to overcome in heroic fashion, but that doesn't mean our story is book material.

I've had writers argue with me about dialogue changes stating that the line was what was really said. Perhaps so, but it isn't believable in fiction. As they say in the courtroom, it doesn't have the ring of truth to it.

Even in fiction, the writer must ask the hard questions: "Is this believable?" "Will the reader dispense with reality and sink into the story?"

Fantasy and science fiction writers master this or at least struggle with it. Same with romance writers, though rarely do I think the story is believable.

Writing errors can be corrected, but bad writing is just that -- bad. Prepare to step up to the big time and make sure your writing measures up. I boast that Cactus Rain books can stand toe-to-toe with any other book on the shelf, beginning with The Doctor, The Plutocrat, and The Mendacious Minister.

Check it out and tell me what you think. http://www.cactusrainpublishing.com/