I love reading dialect but I’d never tried to write serious dialogue in dialect until now. It seemed like it should be easy, scatter a little slang and colloquialism into the conversation and there you have it. I do it all the time on my facebook page, just clowning around.
A few days ago I had one of those off-the-wall images pop into my head. I envisioned a greyed wooden house decaying somewhere in the backwoods surrounded by tall grass, old cars, and trucks. The more I thought about this scene the more I knew I needed to include it in the new book. As I am using the same basic characters from White Wolf Moon I needed to move them into other environments and the old car graveyard not only provides this outlet, it ties in with the original storyline. I announced my revelation on my facebook page this way:
“Bagged me an epiphany last night…been huntin’ one of those for months. It stumbled noisily up the basement steps and stood by the kitchen island glaring at me through hunted eyes glowing and frozen in the ambient halogen track lighting. Pow…gotcha!! The final piece of the puzzle called ‘sequel’….”
It isn’t the final piece. Working with this new scene opened up a few options in other areas…options that add elements of mystery and excitement that were lacking both in this book and the first one.
The caretaker of this property was the first new character introduced and I wanted him to be unique, totally unlike any of the regular folks. A separate, individual voice with a questionable past…the mystery factor.
The writing process was an invigorated frenzy, pounding out 3,800 words in two days. It was a breath of fresh air (unlike the stench surrounding that old house I was writing about) and the character called Lucas came to life quickly. He needed a dialect to be distinct and to sublimely tell his story in his own voice, without narrative.
I discovered quickly that there is a fine line between creating a character and creating a caricature and had to reign in on his spoken peculiarities. In this case less says more. I spent yesterday smoothing and deleting and while it still requires a bit more tweaking, I’m really pleased with the result.
In 3,800 words Lucas goes through almost every possible emotion and tells his own story without me telling it. Lucas is defined by what he says and how he says it, much the same as in real life, and it doesn’t take much for us to figure out where he’s coming from:
“Waste a time that dreaming was, my mama used to say. While you’re busy with that dreamin’ life comes sneakin’ up and ass slaps ya good.”