Before we get into the post, the Admins here at IWSG want to recognize two amazing and hard-working Admins for their contribution to the group. Heather Gardner and Tyrean Martinson are unfortunately stepping down from their spots. While we hate to see them go, we understand how there is only just so much time and these are two very busy authors. We will miss them so much, but wish them the best of luck.
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Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.
Remember, the question is optional!
October 6 question - In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?
The awesome co-hosts for the October 6 posting of the IWSG are
I like this question, and I'm answering it on my own blog as well as here, but I'm taking a slightly different slant in the two post.
When I write a story, I often tackle hard topics, ones that are controversial and not necessarily pleasant. However, that doesn't mean that I resort to language bombs, x-rated or violent scenes to tell the story. Shakespeare and Hitchcock had the right idea, take the violence off the center stage, allow the imagination to fill in those spaces because in all likelihood, those imaginations will conjure up more vivid images than anything you "show" explicitly.
Another of my "avoid if at all possible" language techniques is what is called re-spelling. In other words, writing dialogue so that it's spelled to imitate the way a character talks.
"Mose done, Mas'r George," said Aunt Chloe, lifting the lid and peeping in, —"browning beautiful—a real lovely brown. Ah! let me alone for dat. Missis let Sally try to make some cake, t' other day, jes to larn her, she said. 'O, go way, Missis,' said I; 'it really hurts my feelin's, now, to see good vittles spilt dat ar way! Cake ris all to one side—no shape at all; no more than my shoe; go way!"
I recently finished a book set in Portugal and the author did a masterful job of capturing the second-language sound of a Portuguese speaker using English. She didn't re-spell, she changed the syntax and achieved the effect.
"What kind of Port you want? You are in the land of great Port. We invent it, you know."
"Ah, Senhor Costa at your service. I am pleased to advise such pretty lady...You are inglesa? English?"
Another reason for my bias against re-spelling is that it makes it darned hard to read. I hate to pick on Mrs. Stowe, but she's the most extreme example, and it's easy to demonstrate with her since Uncle Tom's Cabin is so dense with re-spelling.
"La bless you, Mas'r George!" said Aunt Chloe, with earnestness, catching his arm, "you wouldn't be for cuttin' it wid dat ar great heavy knife! Smash all down—spile all de pretty rise of it. Here, I've got a thin old knife, I keeps sharp a purpose. Dar now, see! comes apart light as a feather! Now eat away— you won't get anything to beat dat ar."
I'm not completely re-spelling free in my writing. I jumped into the WEP with a short story called The Lynching and wanted a "back-woods" twang for my characters, so I did use gotta and should'a and maybe a couple of 'em for them. The rest of that twang I tried to get with vocabulary and idiom that I thought characterized these people.
“Gotta take a leak Bart. You hang onto the rope.”
Duchane’s bladder’s about the size of a grape. I take the rope, but that means if the bugger comes while Duchane’s playing bear in the woods, I’ll have to change up the plan. I should’a called on Newt for this job. He might be seventy, but he’d pee his pants before he’d sabotage a planned attack like this one.
I'm looking forward to reading other answers to this question. Hope you'll join me to see what other members have to say.
For the next IWSG Anthology, Sweet Romance, we had a lot of submissions! Stay tuned for the publication date!
The next #IWSGPit Twitter pitch event is January 26, 2022!
Every year there are some great success stories. You could be one of them.
See the #IWSGPit page for full details.