Dialect in Writing

 

Dialect 

If one or more of your characters have a dialect or accent that you feel is important to note in your novel, I would suggest that unless you are very familiar with those regional speech patterns or accents, use them sparsely so they  don’t distract from the story. The safer way to do it would be to choose a few instances of the dialect and use them in dialogue. Try as much as possible to have the rest of the writing in plain English.

Falling out of character by messing up the dialect is going to do damage to your credibility as a writer and to the credibility of the character.

I’d like to give you some examples of how I have used dialect of a character in my novels.

One of my secondary characters in The Wind Weeps is Monique, a French-Canadian girl. I wanted to show that she spoke with a French-Canadian accent, but I didn’t want the phonetic spelling of every word of her speech become a chore for the reader. My solution was to limit Monique’s dialect and accent to a few of the most obvious speech habits that were typical of French speakers of English.

Saying the soft sound of “th” (as in “they”) is often difficult for speakers of French origin,  so, for example, instead of saying “there,” Monique would say “dere.”  For the hard sound of “th,” she might say “somet’ing” instead of “something.”

In French the sound of “h” is not used, so in English, Monique would have a habit of dropping the sound of the letter “h.” I showed this by placing an apostrophe in its place.  If she were saying, “It’s time to have something to eat,” she would say, “It is time to ’ave somet’ing to eat.”

That reminds me of the last clue to Monique’s speech being different; she would not use contractions. Instead of “can’t,” she would say “cannot,”  or she would say “it is” instead of “it’s, and “I ’ave” instead of “I’ve.”

By using these three changes in the dialogue, the reader could instantly identify that it was Monique who was speaking.  Just to be sure, I gave Monique two more habits of her own. I added the odd case of her swearing by having her say, “Tabernac,” once in a while. I also had her use an expression that was all her own by having her conflate two common phrases she had heard used in English. When she wanted to say “For sure” or “Sure thing,” as she had heard others say, she ended up saying, “For sure t’ing.”  Whenever this came up in the book, we would always know it was Monique speaking.

If you’d like to check it out yourself, you can find The Wind Weeps and its sequel, Reckoning Tide, at all amazon   (click on amazon) outlets and at smashwords.com (Click on smashwords.com).

My books are all marked down to 99 cents US so you can load your e-reader with bargain reading.

You can find a review of The Wind Weeps, by clicking on this blog post by Diana Wallace Peach,

P.S. For those who follow both my blogs, I have copied this post for both this one time. I don’t intend to make that a habit.

 

 

Samples from Julia’s Violinist

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“Julia’s Violinist” is the story of a love triangle set in Europe and Canada and spanning the decades from about  1912 to 1973.

Here are some samples from the book.

The character description is of Karl’s mother, Alana:

At last she stepped up onto the tram. Oh, it was good to be out of the wind. Alana unbuttoned her jacket and let it hang loosely. She sat and, with practiced detachment, ran her hand down the length of her leg, enjoying the feel of her chic, new silk stockings. The appreciative gazes of the male passengers pleased her. She smiled smugly at the women, inviting their disparaging glares.

The setting is of a classroom in a German boys’ school in the 1920s:

Herr Solberg took Karl by the scruff of the neck and hauled him into the school, lifting him so that the tips of his toes were all that touched the ground as he walked. Karl tingled with excitement. At the end of the break, the class had to witness his punishment. Karl stood at the front of the classroom looking at the faces of his classmates. Some covered their mouths to hide their expressions of horror at the pain they knew was coming, while others beamed openly in gleeful anticipation.

The scene ending is of Karl being freed from POW camp in 1946:

The Russian guard tossed a tatty bundle of letters to him and read the next name. Karl was stunned. Not a single letter for over a year and now, on the last day, a bundle of … thirty-one, he counted. All from Julia.

He was frantic with wanting to open them, but nothing, not even these special letters, could make him lag behind in the POW camp. Out! Out! Just get out first, and then I can look at them.

As soon as he was out of sight of the prison camp, he sank down on the ground beside the road. His hands trembled as he opened the first letter. Through tears he saw her lovely handwriting, so perfect and neat; words that spoke of loneliness and longing. Each letter contained a small anecdote of Julia’s home life and ended with the hope that they would see each other again. Around the edges of the pages his name was written over and over in a border design, “KarlKarlKarlKarl. I miss you, Karl.”

He wasn’t sure how long he sat there. Other recently released POWs walked by. No one stopped. They had seen it all and there was nothing unusual about a man sitting in the dirt crying his eyes out as he read his mail.

 

Front Cover Only

 

Still on sale for about 99 cents through January.

Julia’s Violinist is available in paperback and all e-book formats at Smashwords.com

and at all amazon sites, particularly

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

amazon.de

amazon.ca

Find out more at my website: http://www.anneli-purchase.com 

Emotion in Writing

When I read a book, I often base my opinion of whether it’s a good story or not, by the emotion it brought out in me. If a book made me laugh or cry it was usually a good one. Of course there are many other emotions besides happiness or sadness. Fear, paranoia, depression, sympathy, worry; they are all part of our emotions. It is the writer’s job to draw the reader into the story by making him care about the characters. As a reader, if I feel that I am emotionally drawn in, that usually means I’m enjoying the book.

I would like to share with you an excerpt from my novel, Julia’s Violinist. I hope you’ll feel some kind of emotion as you read it.

Excerpt from Julia’s Violinist

Three days later the POWs gathered their few possessions and lined up at the Stalag gates to have their passbooks stamped on their way to freedom. The last distribution of mail was done as the soldiers passed through the gates. Only a handful of POWs had mail. Karl thought he must have heard wrong when his name was called. The Russian guard tossed a tatty bundle of letters to him and read the next name. Karl was stunned. Not a single letter for over a year and now, on the last day, a bundle of … thirty-one, he counted. All from Julia.

He was frantic with wanting to open them, but nothing, not even these special letters, could make him lag behind in the POW camp. Out! Out! Just get out first, and then I can look at them.

As soon as he was out of sight of the prison camp, he sank down on the ground beside the road. His hands trembled as he opened the first letter. Through tears he saw her lovely handwriting, so perfect and neat; words that spoke of loneliness and longing. Each letter contained a small anecdote of Julia’s home life and ended with the hope that they would see each other again. Around the edges of the pages his name was written over and over in a border design, “KarlKarlKarlKarl. I miss you, Karl.”

He wasn’t sure how long he sat there. Other recently released POWs walked by. No one stopped. They had seen it all and there was nothing unusual about a man sitting in the dirt crying his eyes out as he read his mail.

Front Cover  jpg (1)(2)

Julia’s Violinist is available at all amazon sites in paperback or Kindle and at smashwords.com in paperback and all e-reader formats. You can find out more about my books on my webpage:  http://www.anneli-purchase.com

Grammar Manners – Say it Right

Writers, do you struggle with grammar? Here is one way of helping yourself sort out how to “say it right.” But first, look at these sweet little dogs.

Exemplary Behavior – by Horatio Henry Couldery (1832-1893)

Having and using good manners will always be important to me. Although I don’t feed my dogs at the table, I couldn’t help admiring the good manners displayed by the dogs in this painting.

DSCN9420

My old “Good Manners for All Occasions” says it’s polite for the man to open the door for the lady, and for that matter, for any younger person to open it for the older one. This custom is considered to be polite, but in the penguin world, letting someone else go first is based on survival.

penguins

Penguins stand in a line at the edge of the ice, ready to go for a dip in the ocean for a bit of fishing. Who will test the waters first? The crowd gathers at the water’s edge jostling each other until finally, one of them falls in. If he isn’t attacked by a lurking leopard seal in the next few moments, the rest of the penguins dive in.

But surely, we humans have evolved from these primitive, yet effective, tactics. We now consider it polite to allow others to go first. We offer others the first choice from the food platter, even though it occasionally backfires on us.

This was the case when at dinner, Joe passed the meat platter to his brother Bob first before helping himself. When Joe complained because Bob took the biggest piece, Bob asked, “What would you have done?”

Joe sniffed. “I would have taken the smaller piece, of course.”

“Well, you have it,” Bob said. “So what’s the problem?”

*****

In spite of these odd cases, modern society generally agrees that we should let others go first. And so it is with grammar.

We name the other person(s) first and then ourselves. If it is that simple, why is it still such a problem in our writing?

Following are some tips and guidelines.

When naming others first, we would not begin a sentence with: Me and Joe, Me and him, Me and her, I and Joe.

Okay, we know we should name Joe first, but even so, is it Him and me, Joe and me, or Joe and I?

Let’s look at some sample sentences where you and Joe are the subjects of the verb. Here are the possibilities:

Joe and me / Joe and I / Him and me / Him and I / He and me / He and I / drove to town.

 

When in doubt, leave Joe out. Without Joe in the car, you are in the driver’s seat and of course you would say “I drove to town” not “Me drove to town.” When you take on that extra passenger, if you need to get the feel of whether it’s Joe or him or he, try leaving yourself out. “Joe drove to town” or “Him drove to town” or “He drove to town”?

“Him drove to town” simply does not work, so you can use either “Joe” or He.”

*****

I’m still shocked when I see sentences like “Me and him went to the party.” You would never say “Me went to the party” or “Him went to the party,” so why would you say “Me and him” or even “Him and me” (went to the party)?

And now we come to the other situation where you and Joe are the objects of the verb. Which is correct?

The sun shone on:

me and Joe

Joe and me

Joe and I

him and me

him and I

he and I

First rule is to mention others first so that narrows it down to Joe/him/he and me/I. Second, leave out me/I and we have “The sun shone on Joe (or him).” Then leave out Joe and we have “The sun shone on me” (you wouldn’t say “I”). So together we have “The sun shone on Joe/him and me.” Better yet, say “The sun shone on us.”

Now may the sun shine on your grammar and mine.

When you have finished writing your book, why not check out my webpage for copy-editing and other goodies?

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No Fancy Man

She pulled over to the side of the gas station after she gassed up, and made the call. At the pumps Brent was leaning his shoulder into the side of his truck, staring off into space as he held the nozzle in the gas tank. The profile of his face was perfect—manly, but fine. His blue checkered work shirt had a tear in the elbow. Jeans were dirty and smeared with dried blood—from the deer, she presumed. She sure hoped that was what the blood was from. How was she to know? She’d only just met him. His canvas vest had lots of pockets, more practical than fashionable. Seemed like islanders tended to be that way. Kodiak boots half unlaced told her he must have walked a lot today and maybe his feet were sore. Fancy, he was not.

Marlie, a young teacher newly arrived in the Queen Charlotte Islands has a lot to learn. The rough island life tests her survival skills both physically and socially. She finds that with the beauty of the islands come hidden and unexpected dangers.

If you like page-turner stories of love, adventure, and danger, why not download “Marlie”? It is available on all amazon outlets for Kindle and paperback, and on smashwords.com and nook.com (Barnes and Noble) for all formats of e-readers.

 

To find out more, visit my website at http://www.anneli-purchase.com

The Murderer

On Marlie’s first day of moving onto the Queen Charlotte Islands, her car has a flat tire. All her belongings are stuffed in the trunk on top of the tire changing equipment. Once removed, they don’t fit back into the trunk, but a passing islander stops to help change her tire and as the sky opens and rain threatens to soak everything, he offers to bring the excess belongings to Masset for her.

Here is the scene that follows (taken from the novel “Marlie”)

*****

“Okay, you go sit in the car and I’ll take care of the rest.” When she nodded, Brent grabbed a few things from the roadside and walked to the back of his truck. She was right behind him with an armful of odds and ends.

Brent opened the canopy door and as she shrieked, he whirled around. “Oh my God! You killer!” Her face was contorted into a mask of horror.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“You murderer! How could you kill that sweet little thing? Give me my stuff.” She tried to grab the bags from his hand but dropped what she was carrying. They both bent to pick the things up and bumped heads.

“What the hell’s the matter with you?” Brent stared at her in disbelief. The popstar image was fading fast and she was looking more like one of those angry protestors he’d seen on TV.

Her hazel eyes were huge as she glared at him. “You killed that helpless animal.”

“Yeah, I shot a deer. So what? I eat venison.”

“Is that even legal?”

“Lady, what planet did you beam down from? Of course it’s legal. Everybody eats venison here.”

“Not everyone! Not me!” She picked up her things and stomped back to her car but there was no place to put anything. She threw him a disgusted look, frowned, shook her head. She opened the back door and punched and pushed and shoved her belongings, desperate to cram her things into the Corolla’s back seat. No room. She squeezed out a growl of frustration, and looked back at Brent again. Her shoulders sagged and that’s when the tears came.

He blew out a long breath. “Look. Nothing is going to happen to your stuff in the back of my truck. The deer won’t do anything to it. You don’t even have to think about it being there. We’ll load up and you can follow me to Masset.” He waited and she appeared to mull that over. It was taking too long. “Oh, piss on it. This was a mistake. I’m leaving. You can wait for another car to pull over to pack your stuff to Masset for you. I don’t need this shit.”

She wiped her eyes with the back of her wrist and sniffed. “No wait! Yes, okay. Would you please bring my stuff for me? I guess I have to trust that you won’t take off with my belongings.”

“Have to trust me?! Jeezus you’ve got some bloody nerve. What the hell would I want your stuff for?” Brent turned to get into the truck.

“Please.” She closed her eyes and pulled herself up straight. “I’m sorry. I do need your help. If you could take some of my things in your truck…. I do trust you.”

“This is the only road that goes up or down the island, so you won’t lose sight of your boxes.” What does she think I’d do with a bunch of ladies’ clothes? Christ! What a loonie! How did I get myself mixed up with this nutcase?

“Of course. You’re right.”

“Where in Masset are you headed?”

“The teachers’ trailer court,” she said.

He straightened up and inhaled a long slow breath through his nose. Oh man. One of those! “That explains a lot.”

Find MARLIE on amazon and smashwords.

Love Triangle

“Love triangle”: an awkward situation when two people love the same third person. But doesn’t the triangle have three points and don’t they all connect to each other?

Let’s say Michael and Karl (A and B) each love Julia (C).  A and B each connect to C. What about that third connection, between A and B? Without that “rub” the world would be too rosy for C.

Julia and Michael are young and in love. No one plays the violin as sweetly as Michael does. But circumstances interfere, the love affair ends, and Michael disappears. Julia marries someone else. Their two children are lovely, and life is grand.

Then war in Europe changes everything. Alone with two small children, Julia suffers through desperate times.  Her new suitor seems to be the answer to her problems. She marries again, perhaps more for security, although she does come to love him, and the two children they soon have together.

But what happens when the bloom is off the rose and only thorns are left?

What if, out of the blue, a letter finds her, and a voice from 20 years ago and now on the other side of the world asks her to come live with him?

“I’m alive. I’ve searched for you through the Red Cross for years and am overjoyed to have found you at last. I’ve never stopped loving you. Please say you’ll come to me,” Michael writes.

OMG! What to do?
What would Karl say? Or do?

Should she leave this thorny bed and flee to a bed of roses? But she can’t have Karl meet Michael, her beautiful violinist ….

What to do? What to do?

Abandon everyone, everything?  Not her children, and another one on the way.

How desperate is she? And what about the “rub” between the other two points of the triangle?

Find Julia’s Violinist for Kindle or paperback on amazon.com. http://amzn.to/YerEJ7

and for paperback and all e-reader types on Smashwords.com. http://bit.ly/VzlHFR

 

Remote and Romantic

It sounds so romantic to visit remote and naturally beautiful islands. Even more exciting to contemplate living there. It’s a man’s world: a place where fishing and logging take place.

If you’re a woman, you know that fishermen and loggers are physically strong and capable, and to do these jobs in such remote places, they are probably mentally of strong character. They are working and have a paycheque. Hmm…. Might not one of these guys be a good catch for an adventurous single girl?

Marlie is a pretty strong character herself, to undertake a big change in her life while still in her twenties. She has just landed a teaching job in Masset, in the Queen Charlotte Islands. Maybe she hopes to land a different prize as well.

A friend takes her for a ride in his fish boat. She inhales the salty smell of the sea and notices that there isn’t a building or another person in sight. She has never experienced such solitude or felt so small against the elements. But she feels safe in the care of her friend. 

Eagles soar, deer and bears visit the beaches, killer whale fins slice the water. Humpback whales take care not to be near the killer whales, but put on a show of their own, leaping out of the water and landing on their sides, slapping the surface. Marlie can’t believe her good luck in coming to the islands.

Beachcombing and birdwatching are amazing.

But wait! Even this pure and distant place is not without its problems. In town, Marlie teaches her grade three class. She makes friends and gets to know people. But maybe she is too willing to overlook the danger signs in characters who are deception experts.

She befriends an artist who pursues her, and misses some signals she should have picked up on.

Warning!

*** When you read about Marlie’s new life on the Queen Charlottes, brace yourself for some violent scenes. She will have some serious mending to do.  A handsome fisherman is standing in the wings, but Marlie has learned to be careful, and, being new to the islands, has only herself to rely on.

Will she find the inner strength to deal with her problems, or will she run back to the city and the messy life she thought she had left behind?

Marlie is the third of three romantic suspense novels set on the British Columbia coast, but it also works well as a stand alone. If you would like to read the first two novels, you can download The Wind Weeps for free on Amazon and Smashwords.com, followed by Reckoning Tide and then Marlie. Reading Marlie first will not spoil the reading of The Wind Weeps and Reckoning Tide.

You can find Marlie on all the Amazon sites. Just go to amazon.com or amazon.ca, or amazon.co.uk and type in Marlie. If you have an e-reader other than Kindle, you can find Marlie on Smashwords.com. It is affordably priced so as not to break the bank.

For a great review of Marlie, please check it out here: https://wordsfromanneli.com/2018/09/26/a-great-review-for-marlie/

Special thanks to my friend Jan Brown, who has kindly permitted me to use her painting for the cover of Marlie.

Writing Ideas From Real Life

Where do we get our ideas for writing? We’ve all heard the advice to “write what you know,” but we don’t want to end up with a memoir either – not when we set out to write a novel.

Looking back at the five novels I’ve written, I realized that I often took a germ of an idea or an event or experience from my own life and built it into my books.

The trick is not to write the whole experience, but use it as a jumping off point.

Here is an example. In my book, Reckoning Tide (the sequel to The Wind Weeps), I needed to create an incident that had tension and danger and a resolution.

The characters, Jim and Andrea, are in a remote inlet on the coast of British Columbia. They have taken the skiff from their fishing troller and have gone partway up the river to explore.

Photo by Ken Johnston

Just as my husband (the Captain) and I did many years ago, Jim and Andrea tied the skiff to an upturned tree root and walked along the tidal flats.

I was terrified of grizzlies that might be coming to the river mouth to eat salmon. I should have worried more about getting separated from the skiff by the incoming tide.

photo by Ken Johnston

The setting in Khutz Inlet is such that all sorts of danger come with its beauty. Rather than tell my own story in the novel, I used what I knew about the place (the sights, the smells, the danger) to create the final chapters of my novel.

Have you used some of your own experiences as a jumping off point for a scene in your novel? If not, why not try it?

If you would like to find out what happened in the real life version, you can visit my blog post about it here. https://wordsfromanneli.com/2015/04/01/cut-off-2/

To see how I have used that experience in my novel, you can read Reckoning Tide. But first, you should read The Wind Weeps (which is free to download). Just click on the book cover images on the left sidebar to download.

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As well as my first four novels, I have now written “Marlie,” a third novel of romantic suspense that takes place in the Queen Charlotte Islands. It follows “The Wind Weeps” (a free download), and “Reckoning Tide,” but is a stand-alone novel.