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Monday, 21 November 2011

ROMANCING THE WORD



We all like a little bit of romance so how do you get the romance in your novel? Now, I am not talking about writing only romance novels. I am talking about developing your own voice so when readers read they know your style.

Let’s start with Voice
Every writer wants to sound unique, but this is quite a hard feat to accomplish and I do believe it takes time and experience to create that voice. Now if you were a poet, you would definitely not have or use the same voice as you would if you were a novelist.

Imagine this:
Jimmy came down the stairs,
He wore a new suit.
Everyone smiled and stared.
They thought he looked awfully cute.

Listen as you read, it goes something like this, da daw da daw da daw. Followed by da daw da da. That’s the first two lines, I won’t continue but I think you get the picture here. The voice in this silly little poem would not sustain throughout a novel, but it works well for a poem. THIS IS VOICE. And this is what I am talking about.

The voice of the writer must sustain throughout the novel, if it doesn’t then the reader will notice. The reader might not understand what is happening but will be thrown off balance so to speak. So maybe we can say that the voice of a story is sort of the balance of it. Everything stays balanced as long as the voice of the author remains the same.

Of course there are various voices throughout a story, but the author’s voice is prevalent throughout, perhaps in the narrative part. When the characters are speaking things like dialect and other habits of speech, will become part of the dialogue, and also tone and emotion will rule there.

Let’s talk a bit about Dialect:

So an author romances the words in different ways. If you are writing romance your voice would be way different than if you were writing a mystery. A mystery might be more intense, or should be. Things might move along a bit faster, the author carrying the reader with his/her voice and style, leaving the reader breathless and turning pages quickly.

I digress, so let’s get back to dialect…which in my opinion should be used sparingly. There is nothing more boring in my opinion to read a complete novel where all the characters are speaking one or many different dialects. This can be accomplished so much better in a play or movie, but readers might find it tiresome to have to stumble over words and try and figure out what the character is actually saying. A reader could get weary and close the book. Now that is something no writer ever wants to happen to their book.

So if you are going to write dialect, keep it simple. First make sure that you know the dialect properly. There is nothing quite as embarrassing to a writer than giving a character a dialect that is not from his area.

In essence every person speaks in a dialect of some form. Every region and social class has a dialect. So some are more colourful than others and those are the dialects I am speaking about. The unusual, the different ones. It’s all in how the vowels roll off the tongue. I knew a German man once who was trying to learn to speak English and I was trying to learn to speak German, (of course these are languages not dialects). But it has reminded me of a time when he instructed me to put a spoon in my mouth in order to pronounce the particular German word that he was teaching me.

Let’s stop a minute and remember that we are talking about dialect here and not accents. The difference? Hard to establish on first thought, but think of it this way…An accent is the different way words are spoken, while a dialect can have words that are unique to that area and may not be known by someone from another area, even with the same accent. Clear as mud I know. Just consider them kissing cousins. Sometimes you can’t have one without the other. I am going to stop now because this might start to get confusing. Please correct me if you think I have not given a suitable explanation on this confusing and complicated subject of accents and dialects.

Let’s move on.

A writer romances the word by using words that fly off the page and  images that bounce around inside a readers mind. It’s a little thing called word play. Certain words get readers squirming with suspense or languishing in love. It’s all about the power of words. Words have magic and power and writers love language and love to share it with readers.

Where once they were just a group of words, a writer can bring the words to life by romancing them, twisting and turning different phrases, swinging and swaying with musical notes, laughing and loving with a couple in love. At the end, a writer should always leave the reader wanting more.

Mystery leaves the reader vulnerable, open to what is coming next, not knowing what is right around the bend, in the next paragraph, on the next page, in the next chapter. A mystery or science fiction can become quite breathtaking in a sort of way. But then a good romance can do the same thing.

Figurative language and sensory imagery beat about in the reader’s brain, displaying pictures in the mind that the writer has planted there while romancing the word. And don’t forget the smells, and the feelings that a writer places between the words such as damp dew on the grass, itchy underwear, greasy dishes, the suggestion of baking as the child opens the kitchen door,a warm fire on a cold night, and the sounds, oh yes, the sounds. The angry man tramping up the stairs, the dog chewing on a bone, the distinct sound of a gun shot in the crisp night air, the cries of a woman after her lover has left. 

And we can’t forget those suggestive adjectives that at once puts the reader in the place.
All of this in order to draw attention, the writer wants attention from the reader and if he/she is to be rewarded with that attention, then the writer MUST romance the word.
Happy Writing and Reading everyone! How do you romance the word?

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