December 1, 2010

The Drawl

I've mentioned before that I've been struggling on voice with JEHOVAH'S HITLIST. It's not so much struggling as I can't find it. It's struggling in that I keep changing my mind, so the narrative text is horribly inconsistent.

Here's where I've been flipping. Take a nice classic rural drawl. Change of to a, drop the Gs off of ING (remindin' me a somethin'), swap was/were (he were/they was), add 'n to the ends of certain words (if'n), and the like.

At first this was only dialogue, but a lot of narrative text focuses on Jehovah's thought process. We think the same way we speak. Someone's grammar doesn't magically improve just because they're speaking instead of thinking. But that's easier to choose to do than to actually do.

For one thing, a lot of us drop the G off of ING anyway, but seeing the apostrophe makes us slow down and identify what's missing. That can be a big distraction when reading narrative text, so that switched back to normal ING. The next was the was/were relationship. I've tried to maintain this, but no matter how actively you write your verbs, you'll still use WAS more than any other, sometimes multiple times in the same sentence. What was quaint and distinct to begin with became burdensome and distracting.

Jehovah were certain he'd a seen such a thing afore. The last'n had kill't Lil' Petey and ate off Rick Rick's right foot. That all made no nevermind here.

Quaint. Distinct. But for 90,000 words? I just don't know.

Speaking of 90,000 words: I'm usually one that says the book is as long as the book needs to be, but seeing just how depressed the sci-fi1 market is, this isn't something I want to thumb my nose at. The thing is, I thought I was coming in too short somewhere around 35k and kind of fleshed things out. I'll have to go back and chop some of that out because I'm actually at risk of going over 90k, which I'm using as a hard ceiling for this book.

Approaching the end, I reached the book's thesis statement. The exchange includes more than one racial epithet. And while both the character and the setting make it an appropriate word choice, as a writer, it is SO hard to include. A thousand and one times I started to just scrap the entire chapter, but forced myself to finish it. It still makes my skin crawl, though.


1 And in terms of genre, I wanted to bring up dystopian fiction, but will do so in a separate post later after I've gotten some work done. Interesting things. There will be questions, so all a you that have been quiet lately prepare yourselves to comment. :)

3 comments:

  1. Ya done gone convinced me. I's ne'er gonna use no South'n drawl fo' mine narrative. I ain't none too good at it, and it a come out all awkward-like, an' detrac' from this here story.

    Instead, I'll probably just do the sci-fi thing where I can posiferate a new word in at any point and it'll be okay because it's THE FUTURE.

    Of course, if was Malcolm Reynolds, I could get away with doing both. *swears in Chinese*

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  2. Posiferate (v.) to insert in a futuristic manner. As in, "The robot posiferated its cantibule into the device."
    Origin: my earlier comment.

    Cantibule (n.) as yet undefined

    It's okay, I can use such words. It's the future.

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