Dialect in Dialogue by S.J. Garland


Recently I reviewed a historical fiction book by S.J. Garland, and it completely drew me in. One element that stood out most was her use of Scottish dialect, so I asked if she’d write a post about it. Dialect is an interesting technique I hope to try some day.

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find book review of Scotch Rising here

For an author, especially a debut author such as myself, the decision to write a form of Scots dialect into my dialogue was agonizing. I had to decide if the inclusion of all the aye’s and nays would give the text authenticity and therefore help build the narrative tension. Or if it would be cumbersome and make the reader set the book down and walk away without finishing. There are two ways an author can add a touch of dialect to their work, either by stating at the beginning of the characters speech something like: …he replied with a heavy Scottish brogue or with the addition of colloquial sayings relevant to their characters time and place. It is especially important in historical fiction to produce a balanced effort.

Historical fiction is all about setting the mood, getting the reader hooked at the beginning of the story and building enough tension they believe the narrative. The first way to add dialect into dialogue is by stating a character has a particular brogue or accent before they speak, giving the reader a signal to imagine how the character might sound. This choice also ensures the reader will not stumble over complicated sentences with misspelled words and hyphens. However in my opinion it is the weaker of the option, as it means the author must repeat the same signal many times in the text in order to keep the dialect moving.

The second alternative of writing the dialect into the dialogue gives readers the opportunity to experience the flavour of the character in an intimate way. Historical fiction is only one genre that can benefit from the use of direct dialogue. The key to being successful as an author using this method is to find the balance between realism and rambling gibberish. In my own work, Scotch Rising, readers found the addition of the Scots brogue into the narrative a good addition, although a couple of sentences had some people stumped. Writing is all about the learning process and I have toned the brogue down in places for the sequel Pretender at the Gate.

As my work is historical fiction, I spent time researching the words and phrases used by Scots during the time period. I narrowed my research to a Scots poet named Robert Fergusson, and used his poem Auld Reekie as the basis for my dialect. There is a copy available on the Internet at this address, which includes translations for the Gaelic words. With Auld Reekie as my basis, I chose a number of words I could integrate into my dialogue with the result the reader would be able to decipher the meaning after reading the whole sentence. In most cases it worked out well.

The experiment of using dialect in dialogue was rewarding, and it helped me grow as a writer. I will definitely continue to use it in my future work.

Interview with Jennifer Ellision


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I’m always interested to learn how other authors see things. It’s a complex art, and though no two stories are the same, sometimes the craft itself has similar characteristics in everyone. I’m so glad Jennifer Ellision let me ask her some questions. You should check out her book here!

Q: Your characters in Threats of Sky and Sea are all distinct from one another. How do you achieve such characterization–and which one of them speaks to you loudest?

A: Hmmm, well the first part is hard to answer. I didn’t consciously decide to create characters that ranged in personality, it just sort of worked out that way. I really just wanted them to be people, you know? Meaning they’d have their flaws, strengths, innate personality quirks… I’m a pantser so I discovered those things as I wrote.

As for which of them speaks to me the loudest, that would be my main character Breena, whose POV Threats of Sky and Sea told from. Although I have a total soft spot for Prince Caden and Princess Aleta.

And, oddly, the antagonist Lady Kat’s voice got pretty loud for me too. So loud that I had to write her her own short story, Sisters of Wind and Flame.

Q: In the book, many characters control elements. Which element would you choose, and why?

A: Oh, if I could choose, I’d be a Water Thrower, hands down. I love the beach, I love the pool, and if I had no other commitments (and if I wouldn’t get sun-burnt in about 20 minutes flat), I would happily spend all day floating in the water!

Q: What do you think classical literature will be 100 years from now? What books from our generation do you think will make it?

A: Ahhh, classic lit. Well, I think the books that already have the labels of classics such as works by Austen, the Brontes, Shakespeare, and Dickens will likely keep their spot in the curriculum.

As for books that I want to make it to future generations, there are SO many books that I hope do. With the massive love and commitment so many people (myself included) I think I’m safe in saying that I think Harry Potter and The Hunger Games will make it to future years.

Elsewise, in the fantasy genre, I hope that The Girl of Fire and Thorn trilogy by Rae Carson and the Graceling Realm books by Kristin Cashore make it.

Others that I hope make it include: Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, Chime by Franny Billingsley, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

introducing a book cover artist


Even though the book isn’t out till December, I keep panicking and thinking I should have had it all ready by July. But I finally have one thing on the checklist secured: A book cover artist.

My long-time friend and pen pal Syd from Videmus Art is going to read my book and see what she comes up with. I’ve known her forever–literally–I can’t remember a time I was writing before Syd was my friend.

Someday we’ll meet and I’ll cry.

Go follow her blog. I’ll be posting about her a lot. She took the picture of books that I’ve been using everywhere forever. And this butterfly. She seems like just the kind of person who’d work with Muses.

I think she did write about one once.

It’s perfect. More updates to come!

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i just want to challenge people to see beauty in everything.

i currently live in Hong Kong and attend SCAD. most of the time i’m doing something else creative or woolgathering out the window.

Guest Post: How TV Shows Can Help You Plot Your Novel


by Alexa Skrywer

Yup, you read that title correctly. TV shows – and I’m talking the real ones, the epic ones, not the Disney ones – can help immensely with plotting out your novel.

Yeah, go ahead and laugh. I promise I won’t be offended. Finished now? Great.

I’m going to use Supernatural as an example, because that’s a show I’ve just started watching (Yes, I know I’m way behind) and I really like the character arcs.

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If you haven’t seen it, Supernatural is the story of two brothers raised by their father to fight all manner of supernatural creatures. The series also holds a bit of a detective edge since they have to figure out what sort of monster is haunting the area before they can kill it, and because, amidst all this, Dean (older brother) and Sam (younger brother), are also searching for their aforementioned missing father.

Yeah. These poor boys have a lot on their plate.

As a huge fantasy nut, I love the action in this series. There’s a new monster almost every show – from shapeshifters to the Grim Reaper – and Sam and Dean are totally boss when fighting them.

But what I love even more than the action, is the emotion of the story, the beautiful character arcs and the bond between the brothers. How they’re constantly killing evil spirits for normal citizens, all while battling the demons of their own pasts. I love how Sam takes care of Dean and Dean takes care of Sam and how, even though they have their share of arguments, they’re always there for each other.

Ahem. I’ll stop fangirling now.

On to how this can help with writing: The overall story is that of two monster-hunting brothers searching for their father. But, as I said above, there are supernaturals, too, new ones nearly every show. These create a host of mini-plotlines, keeping the action moving as our boys travel cross country, looking for their dad and learning to relate to each other.

And those mini-plotlines are exactly what we need in our novels. You have the overall plot “Character wants this and decides to do this to get it,” and then the little obstacles and helps along the way – the little tidbits you slip into the story, arresting the reader’s attention, while building up to the final climax (which I haven’t seen in Supernatural yet, so don’t spoil it for me if you know).

The obstacles/helps can come in the form of people (in one episode, Sam and Dean find an old friend of their father’s, and she helps them with a case) or difficult situations (…every single episode, but anyway). Sometimes, the smaller plotlines end during the story; they’re wrapped up in a pretty little bow and then we move on. Other times, they open fresh nuances in the overall plot, for instance the end of the very first episode and a certain discovery about Sam in the fifth. Both of them revealed more about the relationships of the characters, kept the story moving, and built carefully on the leaning tower that is every story, leaving me riveted, breathless, and desperate for more.

Which, of course, is the very feeling I want to inflict on some poor reader someday.

People always say the best way to master something is to study it, learn from the greats (practice, too, but we’re not talking about that today). So the next time someone accuses you of watching too much TV, laugh, roll your eyes like they simply do not understand, and inform them in the kindest way possible that you’re conducting writing research.

I’m an aspiring author and beginning blogger. Find me weekly here.

A Disgruntled Englishman on Biscuit Dunking


Right, ok, I’ve told you how to make the perfect brew, here, so it is only proper that you are taught the correct accompaniment to this magic potion, the dunked biscuit.

Before we begin you are now English, it is a biscuit, not a “cookie”.

Right onto business. Get your cuppa (If you haven’t got one, why did you read this far?). Ok now for the biscuit – the perfect dunking biscuit is the rich tea biscuit (this also happens to be another miracle thing, as with the tea, but that is a lesson for another time) after that it is the chocolate digestive biscuit, luckily they dunk very similarly, so get one or the other.

Now take the biscuit and see if it will fit into your cup, I doubt it will. If I am correct then snap the biscuit in half, actually, just snap the biscuit in half either way, gives you more dunks.

Right, now the really important part. Time to dunk the biscuit. Take the edge of the biscuit (one of the corners where you snapped) between your thumb and forefinger and dunk it into your tea, you should hold it in for about 3 or 5 seconds, then gently pull it out. If you don’t leave it in long enough the biscuit will still be crunchy on the inside, if you leave it in too long it falls into your brew and you have to fish it out with a spoon while shouting “Mum me biscuit’s fallen in me brew” (Peter Kay reference, well done if you spotted it).

Finally place in mouth and enjoy.

Repeat with as many biscuits as wanted, drink the brew and become English.

By appointment of Their Regular Noones,
The Lonely Recluse.

P.S. This is a totally tongue in cheek post, Mariella had no control over me, except to ask that I wrote something. All insult is totally your fault for not having a sense of humour good enough to take it, but if complaints wish to be made, you may make them to me here. I repeat, Mariella is not to blame for my sense of humour, or your lack of one.

Boring Legal Bit:
Their Regular Noones (TRNs) had no real input and infact did not appoint The Lonely Recluse as anything, especially not The Even Lower Biscuit Dunker, in fact TRNs do not exist and there is no such role as The Even Lower Biscuit Dunker.

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