Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Days You Wish Your Characters Were Mutes

I'm mostly kidding.

I'm working on revising Promises of Light and Dark this week (I finished it on Saturday) which means I'm running through Secrets of Skin and Stone to get the voices in my brain for a read-aloud revision this week.

Normally, I can keep little character idiosyncrasies in my head, but having Piper be born and raised in Hidden Creek, Alabama where Gris was raised in Atlanta and has traveled around a lot to large cities... their speech patterns are different. As I mentioned, this book is in first person POV with alternating POV between the two. I have to make sure that Gris's chapters don't sound like Piper's chapters... and they both are consistent through the books. So, I've been going through Secrets of Skin and Stone and creating lists of the commonly used words and words they don't use for each of the characters that have chunks of dialogue. I also have an "all" list which includes all the southern speech quirks that apply to everyone. (Y'all, Ma'am... and so on.) Piper's and Gris's lists are very extensive.

Here is where I am for those two at half-way through the book (I think I've caught most of the major ones, though.):

Gris: Leastways, sweetheart, reckon, course, darn near, right (as in right near, right obvious, right awful, right sorry) fine, likely (instead of probably), alright, ought, clear out, NO fixin’ to, sorta, Great night in the morning, hell-fire, downright, holy hell, heck, anyways, overly much, real vs. really, yeah/sure vs. yes, bike vs. motorcycle, Mmm hmm, smidge, I had a mind, plenty, say so, partly, ‘member vs. remember, figure vs. think, scraping of, huh, skirt the edges of, as all get out, pissy, heap, bent, ornery, wholly vs. completely, just see if I wouldn’t, DOESN’T say though, by any stretch vs. by any means, fierce vs. brave, for darn sure, on account of, get a handle vs. get control, yonder, sides vs. besides, sweet, were something else, best (best stop, best not), holy crap, gotta, such as it is, and then some,

Piper: ‘Cause, though, real vs. really, downright, course, shoot, fixin’ to, flat-out, sorta, Holy frak, messing with, hide nor hair, all sorts of, alright, much of a, ought, sucked eggs, yeah/sure vs. yes, fine then, nah, fault vs. blame (you can’t fault), gotten, every now and again, all that, most often, paid no mind, anyways, nothing short of, fairly, C’mon, if it came right down to it, darn, weird, freak, amazing vs. awesome, Good night!, aggravating vs. annoying, smidge, leastways, particularly, neither vs. either, Heaven knew, heaps vs. loads, sensible, ‘neath, sticks yourself into commands (hush yourself, stop yourself), wrangled vs. wrestled, great green earth, lick of sense, by your leave, Umm, “his fool head off”, “some kind of”, look a treat, “Oh almighty no”, chucked vs. threw, shut my mouth!, tuck away food vs. eat, sorry (sorry tail, sorry fool), seeing as how, get purchase, tore off of, ain’t,

Some of these quirks I'll have remembered or might have worked their way in when I did the read aloud. (Piper's voice is very distinctive and persistent in my brain.) Still, I think it's a useful list and there is no way I'd be able to remember ALL that. I'd forgotten that none of them say "awesome" and you've probably noticed from how I write that I typically use that word a lot.

I've also been doing a cheat sheet of eye colors and random little facts that I know come up in the second book.

I'd planned to shelve Promises of Light and Dark for six months after I'd run it by some betas and my sisters, but Sarah asked to receive a copy to maybe slide by the film agent at the agency. (Having your agent follow your Twitter feed is useful... but also means you can't sneak projects by... which is also probably useful. LOL. I'm learning a lot about the film rights aspect to this business which is fascinating and strange, btw.)

So, I'll be busy for the next two weeks probably with this revision. You can openly mock me for my blog posts which will probably be a cross between my regular speech and Piper's. *head slap*

BTW... creating this list really made me wonder what my own personal speech idiosyncrasies list would look like. I know I say the word "awesome" overly much... and my kids use the word "actually" like it is actually going out of style and I know they got it from me. "Holy crap" would also make my list. My internal dialogue and written thoughts would look much different... that's another thing that's significant when you're writing characters in first person with distinctive dialogue voices... they're not quite the same inside their heads. You drop speech hesitation (umm... hmmm) and decrease their polite speech quirks. Piper is much less polite in her head. I am too, btw. I swear a bit in my head. *hangs head in shame*

So... that's what I'm up to. Revision. Revision. Revision. Voice. Voice. Voice.

I'm still really hoping that my brain doesn't latch onto book three, though. *fingers crossed* As much as I like Hidden Creek... I really want to work on my dystopian before I have to change my dates in the manuscript to make them actually take place IN the future. (Mostly kidding... I think my characters aren't even born for a few years yet, but still... I really want to finish this book!)

Have a good Tuesday, everyone!


  1. This is a cool idea. I'm trying to focus a series here in Maine where there are vast differences in speech patterns/habits. Up north, where I'm from, we're clippers of words or masters of sayinasentencesoitsoundslikeoneword. Middle state has the heavy downeast accent with oh, ayuh, and such, very slow. Southern Maine is an odd mix of those two but at a normal rate of speed. I 'get' this since I'm from here and, tho I designed the characters, I forget readers might not 'get' it other than as a character quirk. Cool. I sense some fun coming up in my revise, revealing more about the characters. Thanks. :)

  2. You're missing shit-fire. When my ex husband used to say this I thought he was saying shit far. I am from California - a transplant to Georgia and I swear I still cannot understand people here. It's a foreign tongue!