Monday, October 22, 2012

Up one side...

…and down the other!

A few weeks ago my husband wandered into my office, his copy of my first novel in hand. He read this excerpt to me:

“I visited the professor’s grave right after you and Mom were there, and Gerard praised your efforts up one side and down the other.  He’s been wracking his brain, trying to figure out how to help you without endangering everyone else.”

I waited for the punch line.

“Up one side and down the other!” Richard exclaimed.  “That’s my line!”

We both laughed.  Richard uses that phrase to describe an abundance or excess, and since I’ve never heard anyone else use it we agreed that he deserved full credit.

That brief conversation made me reflect on our patterns of speech and the use of favorite words or phrases in our writing. I strive to give each character a unique voice, yet rhythms and phrases may be so ingrained that I now think I need to expend even more effort on those subtleties.  In other words, when writing dialogue, my effort needs to be up one side and down the other!

by Janet Fogg

Janet is the author of Soliloquy, an award-winning historical romance, and co-author of the military history bestseller, Fogg in the Cockpit.


Patricia Stoltey said...

Immersing ourselves in, or "being", our POV characters can be one way to do that. It can also be lots of fun, especially in multiple point of view novels where we can be the bad guy, the vampire, the little girl, etc.

j.a. kazimer said...

Hi Janet,

I noticed recently that I stole lines from an ex-boyfriend in at least two books. I'm lucky though. My ex likely doesn't know how to read, so I'll never have that awkward conversation.

You bring up an excellent point. I'll have to look more carefully. I bet there are plenty of lines.

Marilynn Byerly said...

"Up one side" is a fairly common usage of older Southerners, particularly those who live in the foothills and Appalachian mountains.