I was tempted to open this post up with “I don’t learn well”, but that might not be exactly true. Some things I learn very well. Someone could show me a new bead stitch today and I’d be getting into the practical applications of it tomorrow. Drop me into a new database configuration and I’ll play it like a mandolin. Other things? Well, I set myself on fire four times in 2016 and that wasn’t even a record.
It might be that part of the reason it took me so long to find a writing coach I gelled with. Teaching me is kind of a crap shoot. I’m stubborn as hell to boot and I will always take on the biggest beastie I can find on the plains, so to speak.
Say, it’s a challenge for me to write in heavy dialect. I’d never done that before Jealous of Roses, or what’s become the old version of it. Add to that the fact I’m actually proud of how Zephyr and Pip’s speech looks on a page. I might not get it right even the third time– another sign this was not my best idea –but when I do, to me, when it’s right, it’s beautiful. To me, anyway.
Kas did not share my opinion. That was one of the first suggestions she made for the new version was dropping, or at least backing off on the dialect. She must have given me twelve reasons for changing out of it, everything from it being hard to read to dialect use tending to infer classicism on the part of the author. I did consider her points. But, I ended up not listening.
I also didn’t listen when the topic came up briefly during heavy revision or regarding “Starshit“. I wouldn’t even say this was a dug my heels in situation. More, the thing continued to happen. I can’t image the amount of patience required to handle that amount of slack on my part. But, we’re both writers and all writers have their Things that they Continue To Do.
I mentioned databases above. Well, my day jobs tend to involve them. The current one involves a lot of internet research. Specifically, internet research about places that serve alcohol, given the project I’m working on at the moment. I’m saying I’ve read a lot of posts about dive bars, some of which, well, we’re not talking about a few typos here or some grammar iffiness there. We’re talking posts which, despite ostensibly being in English, set off Google Translate.
They started to wear on me. A flit of annoyance here, a barely suppressed groan there. Finally, the light went on.
Holy shit is this what readers go through trying to parse some of my dialogue?
I wondered with the intensity of someone staring into the light sky, drunkenly considering aliens. Then, I swore to myself and, well…
20 Minutes Later: “Kas, I’ve made a terrible mistake.”
So, I want to give her the audience she should have had with me here.
“If a character doesn’t feel like or sound like them without a phonetic accent then they aren’t a very strong character. It’s a crutch and you’re a far better writer than that. If you can’t do ‘Well I’m not going to be the one to call them’, Nene said. Her words were slurred together and ran like high tide during a storm and still have her FEEL LIKE HER. Then there’s a problem with the character. You can show an audience something much more vividly and interestingly than SHOWING them.”
Lesson learned. I’m still not sure how I’m going to handle Pip and Zephyr going forward, but in the meantime, if you need some magic to rub on your own work, go ahead and click.