Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dialects, Alligators and Distraction

As a post-busy season retreat, my DH and I took a trip to New Orleans. Yes, the book with the hero from Louisiana is done, but I may have mentioned he was one of my favorites to write.

One of the sticking points while I was writing THE TWINS was getting the dialect right. While my hero wasn't from the city proper (he's from the countryside near New Orleans), I wanted to add authenticity to his vocabulary, remind readers where he was from without hitting them over the head. I was particularly pleased when one of the tour guides mentioned dialect while we were out and about. People in New Orleans don't have that southern drawl you'll hear in other parts of the South. In fact, they're all over the board. One of the tour guides sounded like she was straight out of New York, and indeed, the other guide pointed that out, that the dialect sometimes mimicked other parts of the country. That made it more important for me to find phrases unique to the area, and while I might have laid it on a little thick with my hero (yes, I'm purposely not using his name - read to the end to find out why), I also didn't give him a twang. Just a soft drawl. In the countryside, they have a softer way of speaking. A gentle lilt to their voice that is unique to that area, and that's what I was hearing and trying to convey.

The population in southern Louisiana is unique to most anywhere else in the United States. They still have French schools much the way we have ethnic schools around Chicago because they are still French to their roots. and African. and Spanish. Creoles, born in America with strong ties to the homeland although they are planted on this side of the ocean. I got some fascinating history lessons along the way.

We went on a bayou tour and our guide wasn't what you'd expect, not straight out of those TV shows about gator hunters or swamp rats -- you know the ones I'm talking about. He had a refined, soft lilt to his speech as he told us about life on the cypress swamps, hunting gators, the way of life.

It was a great trip, and it made me miss my characters! Which brings me back to my hero.

As I get back into my writing groove after a long busy season and subsequent time away, I'd like to thank you for sticking with me by giving a random commentor a Smashwords coupon for a free version of EPITAPH 2: THE TWINS. If you know the name of my Louisiana hero (hey, it's easy to find if you check out my home page - there's a tab at the top of the page that will take you there!), leave his name in a comment and I'll put your name in the hat to win a copy. Winner will be chosen May 31, 2017, using


  1. Years ago, I worked with someone I SWORE was from Boston (BAHstahn). When I mentioned it, she said, no, she was from New Orleans (NAWlins).

    In writing characters from different parts of the country, it's capturing the flavor, not trying to mimic their speech on the page. Nobody wants to read phonetic spelling of dialects.

    1. True dat! I think I got his laid back attitude, his regional phrases without even one y'all