Friday, June 06, 2014

Be ye a landlubber or a sea salt?

This latest manuscript I've been writing has taken me down more avenues than any other, I think. At least the Isabella books are pretty much the Native American culture in the story and the setting that I had to do the most research, and of course the illegal activities. They seemed less daunting than the things I've come up against with Staking Claim.

Other historical books I've written required research into the time period, the setting, and sometimes occupations. Half of Staking Claim is set on a Clipper ship. I've had to research the ins and outs of a 19th century Clipper Ship. The food served, the accommodations, the time it takes from point A to point B, and some of the jargon. Then they arrive in New York City. I had to do some research about that city at the time of my story and discover which were the best train routes West and which they could take when trying to escape someone after them. Then I had to get them from New York to Chicago. After Chicago I had to get them on to Oregon.

After dissecting the travel I had to then discover how to make my Scots-Irish American who is a Baronet of an English estate follow the traits I gave him as a twelve-year-old in a previous book. He wasn't as hard to discover what buttons to push to make him show emotion.  The villain, I had to read up on British titles and decide his family, his upbringing, and his nastiness.

The heroine has been a whole different problem. She's someone who made it out of the slums to work as a maid in the villain's family's townhouse. Even though she loathes the villain she is working for him to save her brother. she can't shed her lower class way of talking and doesn't really fool anyone when she portrays the daughter of a baron. Learning the correct way for her to talk and not make the reader's eyes cross has been a fun research project, but is now making the revision on the story take longer than I'd planned. The good thing is she will definitely have her own voice in the story.

How do you feel about real sounding dialog? Love it?  Hate it? Depends?


Rain Trueax said...

The first book I ever wrote (set in 1852) had a hero who was out of Georgia and Missouri, his schooling had been cut short. I worked with a consulting writer on that book probably 20 years ago now and she was adamant that too many yuhs were ruining the story's flow. Now I will use ain't or cut into some endings with an apostrophe but don't go overboard with it. You can show lack of education through simple words and even their asking what a word means when it's used by someone else with more education.

To be honest, I don't particularly like heavy brogues or dialect in what I read. It's a conflict because I do like realistic dialogue but if I can't follow it, if it is confusing, if it slows the flow, and I see it in the sample, I probably won't buy the book. In my own writing I minimize it and that character got some ya instead of you but I mostly kept him not too talkative as he was supposed to be taciturn anyway ;) The strong silent type, dontchaknow ;).

Paty Jager said...

Rain, I'm adding it in and will see what my CP's think when they read it. Miner in Petticoats I gave my Scots Character a lot of the Scots dialect and only had a couple people complain. I toned it down some when I republished myself.

joye said...

Enjoyed reading the article. You seem like you have been doing a lot of research. Sounds interesting.
I like reading historical content in the books I read. JWIsley(at)aol(dot)com

Paty Jager said...

Hi Joye!
Thanks for commenting! I have been doing lots of research. It's been slowing down the writing process.