How to Tighten Your Manuscript

writingI learned a new term recently: “Pleonasms.”

A pleonasm is a word or phrase which can be removed from a sentence without changing its meaning. For example, “John walked to the chair and sat down.” Down is a pleonasm and can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Although I was not familiar with the term, I did know them when I saw them. In fact, part of my editing advice revolves around deleting extraneous words. Words such as “that,” “very,” “both,” “just,” and “there was.” Others might include “began,” “started,” or “continued.”

I also caution to watch use of “ly” words. These words are often used to prop up weak verbs. For example: “She walked quickly” can be stronger if written “She strode” (or bounded or rushed). Likewise with the “to be” verbs (was, were, had been, etc.) especially when used with an “ing” verb. “She was walking” is better as “She walked.”

Some authors like to use taglines (he said, she said) plus an action: …she said, taking a sip of coffee. The simple action is sufficient: She took a sip of coffee.

You also don’t need to describe two actions at once: She nodded and smiled. Or: He puffed himself up and took a swig...

NO symbolA writer friend of mine is looking at every sentence in her manuscript and challenging herself to remove at least one word from each. She cut 14,000 words from a 400-page manuscript.

I challenge you to go one step farther, see if you can delete an entire phrase from a sentence, an entire sentence from a paragraph, a paragraph from a scene. Exterminate those “Pesky Pleonasms.”

Sink, Sank, Sunk–Which do You Use?

I’ve been noticing more and more use of words like “sunk” as the simple past tense, by authors and even in newspaper writing. For example: I sunk into the easy chair.

Here are some other examples: I’ve heard people say I seen it, when they should say I saw it. Or they will use the past tense instead of the correct past participle: We could have went to the movie.

My editor’s hackles go up!

The simple past tense of “sink” is “sank.” The word “sunk” is used as the past participle (or past perfect) and always requires the “helper” word “has” or “had.”

Sinking shipSink: I sink the ship today.

I sank the ship yesterday.

I have sunk the ship many times.

 

See: I see it today.

I saw it yesterday.

I have seen it many times before.

 

Go: I go to the movie (or I’m going to the movie today).

I went to the movie yesterday.

I have gone to the movies many times.

Studying_4

I remember memorizing many of these verb forms when I was in grade school. Maybe they don’t teach that anymore?

Don’t even get me started on “snuck.” (A blog for another time!)

Published in: on June 2, 2017 at 6:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Old School Tech for Today’s Writers

typewriter-clip-artBy Dawn Copeman

editor of the Writing World e-zine

 I’m probably going to show my age here, but do you remember when all you needed to be a freelance writer was a typewriter or a word processor, envelopes and, if you were high-tech, an e-mail account?

I only ask because apparently, according to what you can see on the internet and in writer’s magazines, you couldn’t possibly be a writer today with such basic equipment.  To succeed in today’s competitive world, to be a better writer faster, you need specialist writing software, writing apps for your smart phone and tablet, and subscriptions to members-only guaranteed jobs sites and calls for submission sites.

But I ask myself, is any of this really necessary?

Some new writers seem to think so.  A young woman approached me recently and said she’d love to get into writing but couldn’t afford all the specialist writing software and apps she’d seen advertised.  I told her you don’t need all that to be a writer.

The basics haven’t changed.  Just because technology exists doesn’t mean it is the only or best way of doing something.

Tiffany Jansen’s article below shows us that you don’t actually need tech to be a writer, and that quite often, old school is not only cheaper but also more reliable too.

Now I’m not for one minute suggesting going back to the days of posting query letters with SASEs and IRCs.  Email queries are one of the small wonders of a modern writer’s life that I, for one, will forever be grateful for.

Similarly, I love being able to research writer’s guidelines online, rather than send off for them.  I also find it much easier to get a feel for potential new markets by visiting a website and reading articles online rather than buying several copies of the print magazine.

But surely, there are still so many aspects of a writer’s life that could be done just as well, if not better, the ‘old-fashioned’ and, dare I say it, cheaper way?

For example, do we really need to use our phones to make notes, to plan our writing?  Instead, might I suggest a cool iphoneold-school alternative called The Notepad?  The Notepad is a flexible, highly portable writing aid. It comes in a variety of sizes suitable for most pockets and bags.  Ordered minds can opt for a lined variety to keep their thoughts and musings in order, whereas for more creative, mind-mapping types, a plain paper option is available.

The Notepad can be used with a choice of input devices – the pen or the pencil.

The pen is for those who like to keep a definite note of their thoughts, whereas the pencil is better suited to those who prefer to self-correct as they write, as it is compatible with the word remover known as the eraser.

Likewise, do we really need apps to teach us how to write like Hemmingway?  Or writing software to teach us how to structure stories, create narrative arcs and create memorable characters?

You could try the cheaper, old-tech way of doing it.

Want to learn from the great writers at your convenience? Want a master class in plot writing and word crafting?  You need a “book.”

With a book you can study how any writer of your choice formed sentences, created characters and wove plots.  A book is a portable device that enables you to learn from the great writers whenever and wherever you want. Simply read the words of the writer of your choice and think about how they did what they did.  This amazing knowledge transfer system can be used anywhere and is now even available on tablets and smart phones.

Finally, if you really want to improve your writing skills, forget the super-duper Writer 3000 software and try this old-fashioned and inexpensive tip: practice.  Write regularly. Write by hand or on your computer.  Any blank surface will do.  Actually, the less distractions the better, as you then have no option but to write.

My young wannabe writer friend didn’t sound too convinced by all this old-tech, but I told her she had nothing to lose by trying it.

Personally, I’m glad we have the internet and the advantages it brings – grammar guides and exercises, calls for submissions, access to experts and research via easy to use search engines, etc.

But I’m also glad I started writing when things were less high-tech and so was my bank balance.

This article is reprinted from Writing-World.com. Dawn Copeman is editor.

Clustering Helps Writing

Cluster Diagram“Clustering” is a type of brainstorming or pre-writing that can help give you ideas either before you start writing or when you get stuck. With this technique you can map out your thinking using circles and lines to display“branches” of your ideas or connections between your ideas.

Choose a word, for example the name of your main character. Write it down and circle it. This will be the center of your cluster. Then randomly as each new word or phrase comes to mind, circle it, and connect it with a line to the word that sparked it. It can be other characters in your story, or a physical description, or inner characteristics. Attach each word that seems like an entirely new direction to the center idea.

But don’t allow that ugly inner editor to intrude–don’t get hung up on which words connect to what. The idea is to let thoughts run quickly without editing, censoring, or worrying about proper sequence.

Try this for 3-5 minutes, like a free-writing exercise. Keep adding to it when you think of new ideas. See where it leads you in your storyline.

Published in: on February 7, 2014 at 5:18 pm  Comments (3)  
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10 Writing Tips From Bestselling Novelist Janet Fitch

As reprinted in the Los Angeles Times

by Janet Fitch

1. Write the sentence, not just the story

Long ago I got a rejection from the editor of the Santa Monica Review, Jim Krusoe. It said: “Good enough story, but what’s unique about your sentences?” That was the best advice I ever got. Learn to look at your sentences, play with them, make sure there’s music, lots of edges and corners to the sounds. Read your work aloud. Read poetry aloud and try to heighten in every way your sensitivity to the sound and rhythm and shape of sentences. The music of words. I like Dylan Thomas best for this–the Ballad of the Long-Legged Bait. I also like Sexton, Eliot, and Brodsky for the poets and Durrell and Les Plesko for prose. A terrific exercise is to take a paragraph of someone’s writing who has a really strong style, and using their structure, substitute your own words for theirs, and see how they achieved their effects.writing

2. Pick a better verb
Most people use twenty verbs to describe everything from a run in their stocking to the explosion of an atomic bomb. You know the ones: Was, did, had, made, went, looked… One-size-fits-all looks like crap on anyone. Sew yourself a custom made suit. Pick a better verb. Challenge all those verbs to really lift some weight for you.

3. Kill the Cliché.
When you’re writing, anything you’ve ever heard or read before is a cliché.They can be combinations of words: Cold sweat. Fire-engine red, or phrases: on the same page, level playing field, or metaphors: big as a house. So quiet you could hear a pin drop. Sometimes things themselves are cliches: fuzzy dice, pink flamingo lawn ornaments, long blonde hair.Just keep asking yourself, “Honestly, have I ever seen this before?” Even if Shakespeare wrote it, or Virginia Woolf, it’s a cliché. You’re a writer and you have to invent it from scratch, all by yourself. That’s why writing is a lot of work, and demands unflinching honesty.

4. Variety is the key.
Most people write the same sentence over and over again. The same number of words–say, 8-10, or 10-12. The same sentence structure. Try to become stretchy–if you generally write 8 words, throw a 20 word sentence in there, and a few three-word shorties. If you’re generally a 20 word writer, make sure you throw in some threes, fivers and sevens, just to keep the reader from going crosseyed.

5. Explore sentences using dependent clauses
A dependent clause (a sentence fragment set off by commas, dontcha know) helps you explore your story by moving you deeper into the sentence. It allows you to stop and think harder about what you’ve already written. Often the story you’re looking for is inside the sentence. The dependent clause helps you uncover it.

Coffeepot Rock

Coffeepot Rock

6. Use the landscape
Always tell us where we are. And don’t just tell us where something is, make it pay off. Use description of landscape to help you establish the emotional tone of the scene. Keep notes of how other authors establish mood and foreshadow events by describing the world around the character. Look at the openings of Fitzgerald stories, and Graham Greene, they’re great at this.

7. Smarten up your protagonist
Your protagonist is your reader’s portal into the story. The more observant he or she can be, the more vivid will be the world you’re creating. They don’t have to be super-educated, they just have to be mentally active. Keep them looking, thinking, wondering, remembering.

8. Learn to write dialogue
This involves more than I can discuss here, but do it. Read the writers of great prose dialogue–people like Robert Stone and Joan Didion. Compression, saying as little as possible, making everything carry much more than is actually said. Conflict. Dialogue as part of an ongoing world, not just voices in a dark room. Never say the obvious. Skip the meet and greet.

9. Write in scenes
What is a scene? a) A scene starts and ends in one place at one time (the Aristotelian unities of time and place–this stuff goes waaaayyyy back). b) A scene starts in one place emotionally and ends in another place emotionally. Starts angry, ends embarrassed. Starts lovestruck, ends disgusted. c) Something happens in a scene, whereby the character cannot go back to the way things were before. Make sure to finish a scene before you go on to the next. Make something happen.

10. Torture your protagonist
The writer is both a sadist and a masochist. We create people we love, and then we torture them. The more we love them, and the more cleverly we torture them along the lines of their greatest vulnerability and fear, the better the story. Sometimes we try to protect them from getting booboos that are too big. Don’t. This is your protagonist, not your kid.

Janet Fitch is the author of “White Oleander” and “Paint it Black,” and she teaches writing at USC. It seems like every time I run into her at a reading, she introduces one or two or more of her students who she has encouraged to come along, people whose work she praises. This enthusiastic engagement makes her, well, nicer than many writing teachers, and that niceness might be why she’s posted a list of 10 writing tips that can help almost anyone on her blog. But the list shows that just because she’s nice, she’s no pushover in the classroom.

Published in: on November 22, 2013 at 6:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Why Do We Like Conflict?

OK, you’ve decided to write a story and you’ve created a character. Now you have to give her a problem to solve and put him in some kind of jeopardy. Life is a series of choices, and every choice implies a conflict. You make one choice and the consequences are _____ or you choose the other option, and the consequences are ______.

For a reader to care about your story, there has to be something at stake—something of value to gain, something of value to lose. One writer terms it “wrestling”—two strong forces meet, one triumphs over the other, for better or for worse.

Conflict can be external: a villain, an opponent, a set of circumstances, the environment or landscape. It can be internal: fear, distrust, uncontrollable rage, a number of things. A book can have both. In Lord of the Flies, what’s at stake externally is survival; internally, it’s fear vs courage. Every character should have the potential to conflict with every other character, whether that potential is realized or not.

Is it a fair fight? A motivation against no opposition is boring. A character who always gets everything he wants, succeeds in boxingevery task, wins the girl/guy with no problem, has no drama. Remember PLOT is a VERB. Likewise, pure victimization is not only dull, but depressing.

Conflict doesn’t come in oppressing or being oppressed—it comes in the struggle to break free. The reader wants the final outcome to be in doubt. He likes the anticipation of conflict, a situation created where conflict is waiting to happen. (i.e. Character A is a former Nazi and B is a Holocaust survivor. Neither knows this info about the other. They sit in a room & make small talk. All the while, we wait for the conflict to erupt. Maybe it never does. Maye it’s chapters later, after they’ve become friends.)

Which leads us to the next step: Storytelling is not about giving away information, but about withholding it.

Why do we prefer to sit down with a 300-page book (or in the case of Harry Potter, 800 pages), rather than just read a 2-3 page synopsis of a story?

Because we want suspense, we want to go on this journey, this adventure, with someone we can care about.

Suspense is about anticipation. It is about what we do not have, what has not happened, about what might happen. It’s about the process of watching events unfold. (i.e.While the victim is being stalked, suspense looms. Once the victim is murdered, the suspense disappears.) Waiting to find out builds suspense, drama.

Creating Suspense.

  1. The goal. What does the character want to achieve?
  2. The stakes. What is at risk for the character?
  3. Danger. remember that danger is a matter of perspective—it only needs to exist in a character’s head to create suspense.
  4. The Ticking Clock. A time limit heightens suspense.
  5. inability to take action. For example, in Hitchcock’s the Rear Window, the protagonist has a broken leg, hears the killer approaching, but is helpless to go anywhere.
  6. The Unknown. We can bear almost any form of torture as long as we know what it is we are getting into. But keep us in the dark, give us time to think about the possibilities and the suspense will be unbearable.

Kurt Vonnegut once said that a hero “should always want something, even if it’s just a glass of water.”  An instructor in a writing class told us there should be conflict on every page, even if the character is too hot or cold.

Here’s a great blog post by Kristen Lamb “Giving Life to Your Fiction.

What other ways have you written or read that create tension or conflict?

Published in: on October 25, 2013 at 6:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Where Story Seeds Come From

by Karen Casey-Fitzjerrell

KarenWhen readers ask where my story ideas come from, my first inclination is to answer with a question. Where don’t they come from? However, for this post I’ll narrow my answer to how I formed ideas for my latest novel, Forgiving Effie Beck.

Years ago, I moved to a small farming-ranching community in central Texas. Most of my new friends were in their 80s and 90s, the last generation to have ridden horses to a one room school house that also served as the town hall. As the “new kid in town,” they glommed onto me like new meat. At Ladies Aide Society meetings, church socials and potluck dinners the ladies gleefully shared their colorful life stories.

Late one summer, the weekly newspaper reported a “local citizen” had alerted the sheriff that his elderly ranching neighbor, a woman, had gone missing. The whole town was a flutter about where she could be, what could’ve happened to her. And of course, church ladies shared all kinds of information with me about the missing woman’s history, though I was never able to guess where truth crossed over to gossip-mongering.

Months later, I saw a yet another newspaper announcement about a reunion of Orphan Train Riders to be held in a nearby community. I attended hoping to get a few interviews for my freelance magazine work. I met and talked with about a dozen “Orphans.” While I felt that writing about Orphan Trains had been a little overdone, it was fascinating to talk with them one on one, to hear their personal histories. I learned how orphan records were kept and why it was so hard for adopted children to find out who their parents were or why they’d been put on the trains.

And, not long after that, I stopped for lunch at a City Cafe’ after conducting interviews with some of the locals. I watched as a very large man in faded overalls lumbered through the double cafe’ doors. He heaved his girth onto a stool at the counter and started a loud conversation with the waitress. He joked that he was the Mayor of Pole Cat Creek.

Effie Beck CoverThere you have three elements I used in Forgiving Effie Beck. Little seeds of facts, conversation and observation that tickled my imagination and made me wonder: What if those incidences could be fit together?

I had first hand accounts from town and ranch women about what they’d lived and what they had to say about a missing woman whose whole life existed on the outskirts of local society. In the book they became Frances, Cora Mae, and Glory.

My peek into the lives of real live-to-tell-it Orphan Train riders gave me Paddy Shaw, the grave digger.

The rotund fellow who bragged about being Mayor of Pole Cat Creek actually became two characters in Forgiving Effie Beck: Mayor Tubby Whittaker and Texas Ranger Clyde Cheevers.

When I sat down to write, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to use The Great Depression Era as my historical backdrop. My ideas, for the most part, come from observing and absorbing what happens in my everyday life. Those  ideas easily fit into historical settings because human nature is millennial.

For me the how, where, when and what cannot be rushed. Story takes time to develop and must have tension to hold all elements together in the same way a rubber band holds small unmatched items to a whole when it’s wound tight around them.

Karen Casey Fitzjerrell’s debut novel, The Dividing Season, won the 2013 EPIC Award for Best Historical Fiction. She is a former journalist who traveled Texas back roads for eight years in search of history mysteries and unique-to-Texas characters to include in her newspaper and magazine articles. She now lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Karen’s website is http://karencaseyfitzjerrell.com/ and Forgiving Effie Beck is available on Amazon

Where Do Story Ideas Come From?

Student_Needs_HelpIdeas can come from anywhere…like the piece of family history that my grandmother rode bucking stock in rodeos. Or a newspaper story, like the one my author friend Maryann Miller found: when a woman died and authorities went into her home, they found skeletons of babies in boxes in her attic. This resulted in her novel Boxes for Beds.

But when you are truly “stuck,” here are some websites I’ve read about that might help.

The Story Starter http://www.thestorystarter.com/  This is as simple as it gets. Click a button, and you can get a first sentence for your story.

Random Story Generator http://www.school-for-champions.com/fiction/random_story.htm  This site shows you a simple plot, and illustrates it with the help of a random story.

Serendipity http://nine.frenchboys.net/ Generators for names, stories, places, and characters. The generated content isn’t too long,  just a couple sentences to get your brain kicking.

Seventh Sanctum http://www.seventhsanctum.com/  Tons of story generators. They have the usual name, character, and story generators, but they also have generators for things like equipment (magic items, weapons and so on), powers (super powers, special abilities and so forth), and even a technology generator for the gadget lovers.

How about you? Where do your ideas come from? Have you found story prompts and generators helpful?

Published in: on September 7, 2013 at 6:32 pm  Comments (4)  
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Words for Writers

Here is a list of some important and interesting words for writers to think about, know and use. Have fun!

ACTION:  Action and plot grow out of compelling, interesting characters.  Suspense, action, and conflict are what keep the reader interested.  Action is presenting the real life evidence through characters, by showing, not telling the story.

BEATS: Beats can be the little bits of action interspersed through a scene, especially in dialogue. For example:

“I don’t even want to go there,” I said.

He laid a hand on my arm. “You want me to drive?”

CONSONANCE:  Is the close repetition of the same consonants of stressed syllables, especially at the end of words, with differing vowel sounds.  Example: Boat and Night.Ear

DISSONANCE: Is a mingling or union of harsh, inharmonious sounds that are grating to the ear.  Often used to create a disturbing or tumultuous atmosphere or confusion or bewilderment in poetry.

EUPHONY:  Is the harmony or beauty of a sound that provides a pleasing effect to the ear.  It is achieved not only by the selection of individual word sounds, but also by their relationship in the repetition, proximity, and flow of sound patterns.

FLASHBACK: A window to your character’s past.  A flashback gives you a way to “show” your character’s past through a scene without “telling” the story through narration.  Be very careful in using these so it doesn’t “bump” the reader out of the action & story flow while you are explaining what happened sometime in the past. It can be passive. Keep it very brief and try to use a sense to trigger the memory, e.g. a smell or a sound, etc.

HOMOPHONE:  Is a word that has the same in sound as another word, but different spelling and meaning.  (For example: Pair as in set of two, and pear as in edible fruit.)

METAPHOR:  An analogy between two objects or ideas when you say one item IS another. For example: “Then it was there alongside, the locomotive a sudden tornado, black, huge, screaming…”  A SIMILE is saying something is LIKE another: “The bird’s wings were blue as the sky.”

ONOMATOPOEIA:  Words that imitate sounds, or any word whose sound is suggestive of its meaning.  Using words like a musical instrument to create a specific sound. For example: the words “Splash” or “Plop.”

PARADOX:  Is a statement that contains seemingly contradictory elements or appears contradictory to common sense, yet can be true when viewed from another angle. A good character trait to experiment with.

STORY LINE:  The plot of a book, film, or dramatic work.

THEME:  An idea, point of view, or perception expressed as a phrase, proposition, or question.  The root or core of what is expressed.

VISION:  A mental image produced by imagination. How someone sees or conceives of something.  Discernment or perception; intelligent foresight. The mystical experience of seeing as if with the eyes of characters within your writing.

Published in: on May 17, 2013 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Don’t Shoot the Painter

Wrong-Hill-to-Die-On-Med-Res-Front-Cover-177x276

by Donis Casey

When I write an Alafair Tucker novel, I work hard to authentically depict what life was like in the pre-World War I rural Oklahoma.  I decided early on that I wanted to try and evoke not just the events of the time, but the smells, the tastes, the sound, the hot and cold of it — the daily one-foot-in-front-of-the-other life of a farm wife with ten children. I love the language, too. When I was a teenager, my uncle walked into our house one day and said, “What in the cat hair is going on?” How could I let such a colorful way of expression fade into oblivion?

I’m very careful with dialect when I write, and often worried about it, too. The people in 1916 Boynton, Oklahoma, did in fact use terms and phrases that are now cliche. I know this is so because that is the way my grandparents talked, all four of whom were in their teens and twenties in the 1910′s. In truth, I don’t write exactly like they talked, because it would not be understandable if I did. It’s a beginner’s mistake to try transliterate a character’s accent onto the page. But the choice of words used and the very way that those words are combined will evoke the time and place.

The trick to writing dialect is to simply give a flavor of the language by use of grammar, word order, rhythm of speech, and regional phrases.There is a very big difference between dialect, which is the meaning and use of words and phrases of a particular region or ethnicity, and accent, which is the way words are pronounced. That is, a native Oklahoman in 1916 would probably have pronounced the word panther as painter, oil as awl, and point as pint.  But I would not have my character say, “I just shot me a painter.”  Because you would look at that, Dear Reader, and say huh?

Sometimes writing dialect for the near past is trickier than for the more distant past.  Would my teen boy have said “jeepers” in 1916?*  How about, “I’ll be f—ed?”** How can I know? Sometimes it’s tough, but we do our best. Popular literature of the time and etymological dictionaries like the good old Oxford English Dictionary help a lot.

In my experience, persons of Alafair’s particular era and place spoke with an amazing blend of ungrammatical, nonstandard usage and beautiful, flowery phraseology that would not look amiss in Shakespearean dialog. Here’s a passage from the fifth Alafair Tucker novel, Crying Blood:

“You’re a spiteful heathen, McBride…There’s no stud in Oklahoma can hold a candle to yon stallion and well you know it.  Talk some sense into the fool, Shaw. I’d have to haul my mares clean to Tennessee to find another half so fine, nor could I buy another of such quality even if I could afford to scour the country to find him.”

Some of the words used in the paragraph are archaic, but not unfamiliar, such as “yon”, or the way the character uses the word “clean” instead of “clear”. And the word order is different from what one might hear these days.  But I didn’t write ‘Yore uh spotful haythun, McBrodd.”  I trust that you heard it that way in your head, anyway, Dear Reader.

I’m fairly well educated myself, and I grew up determined to speak English in as standard a fashion as I could. My parents were college educated, but OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtheir parents and older relatives weren’t, so I grew up around country people. My most schooled grandparent graduated from the eighth grade, which was as far as most people in that time and place could go. One grandparent only got as far as the third grade. But just because you didn’t get very far in school doesn’t mean you aren’t smart. Michael Caine, who is Cockney, once said that people too often judge your intelligence by your accent.

I fear I did that too often during my youth. Now that I’m not so young, I realize that my grandma knew a heck of a lot more about people and about living than I do, lack of advanced degrees notwithstanding.

Writing dialect is dangerous business, any as any writer knows. It’s really hard not to sound ridiculous, or worse, to sound like you don’t respect your characters. So most teachers warn students away from attempting it. Now that it’s hard to find strong dialect anywhere in America, I find that I miss hearing it. To me, an old Oklahoma way of speaking sounds like my warm and loving childhood, and that’s why I try to lovingly convey a flavor of it in my writing.

________________

*no

**yes

_______________

Donis Casey is the author of six Alafair Tucker Mysteries, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, Hornswoggled, The Drop Edge of Yonder, The Sky Took Him, Crying Blood, and the recently released The Wrong Hill to Die On. Her series featuring the sleuthing mother of ten children is set in Oklahoma and Arizona during the booming 1910s. Donis has twice won the Arizona Book Award and her books have been finalists for the Willa Award and the Oklahoma Book Award. Her first novel, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, was named an Oklahoma Centennial Book. Read the first chapter of each book at Donis’ website.

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