Dialect


Dialect

by Adam Huddleston

The literary term this week is: dialect.  This word is simply defined as the pronunciation, grammar, and spelling of a particular people.  Dialect is one facet that separates groups of people from one another.  Using dialect effectively increases the level of characterization and leads to more enjoyment by the reader.  

Many authors have used regional dialects well.  The first author that comes to my mind is Mark Twain.  If you’ve ever read Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, you can almost feel Southern speech dripping off the page.  My favorite author, Stephen King, uses speech patterns and phrases often heard in the northern New England states.   

One word of advice: if you give a character a specific dialect, be cautious that it is one generally understood by your audience and not what you think it sounds like.  For example, some may believe that all Southerners use the term “ain’t” or drop the “g” off of the ending of words.  Many do, but don’t fall into the trap of stereotyping.

Hopefully, the proper use of dialect will flesh out your characters.  Happy writing!

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Character Chart


Character Chart

by Adam Huddleston

I’m not sure where I received this template for a character chart, but I wanted to share it with everyone.  It is only the first two sections of the chart, but if you’d like the rest, feel free to contact me.  Happy writing!

character chart sheet1

Making Your Characters Interesting


Making Your Characters Interesting

by Adam Huddleston

So you want people to read your story, right?  And your story has characters, right?  

Right.

Well, why would a reader dig through hundreds of pages of your tale if they are bored?  Reader’s read for several reasons, but the primary motive for them reading fiction is an interest in the plot and characters.  So, it is imperative that you create interesting people to populate your work.

1.  Make well-rounded characters.  Give everyone strengths and weaknesses.  Make some endearing to the reader and others detestable. Now, don’t go overboard and wear the reader down by explaining every backstory on every single character, but fill out the main cast.

2.  Be sure the reader understands the goals of the protagonist and antagonist.  Make the goals strong and clear and make sure the reader knows when/if they reach those goals.  As an avid reader, I can tell you that it is aggravating to spend time moving through a novel only to have a nebulous ending.

3.  Make the characters relatable.  This admonition is similar to the first, but it is important.  Even if your hero is a muscular, brave, non-human, and you are not, make some part of their personality similar to the what a typical reader’s would be.  The reader wants to be a part of the adventure, and will feel closer to it if they can relate to one or more of the main characters.

I hope these rules help in some way.  Happy writing!   

Favorite Literary Characters


Favorite Literary Characters

by Adam Huddleston

Since the theme this month is characterization, I wanted to mention a few of my favorite characters from classic fiction.  Of course, this list is by no means comprehensive.

One of my most beloved book series is The Dark Tower by Stephen King.  While many fans of Mr. King’s magnum opus would site the main character’s side-kicks as their favorite characters, I have to go with the protagonist, Roland Deschain.  He is simultaneously endearing and frightful.  His gun-fighting abilities are fascinating as is his doggedness at pursuing the story’s ultimate goal.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien hosts a literary ton of characters.  Of all of them, my favorite is Aragorn (AKA Strider, AKA King Elessar).  He is the prototypical hero and Tolkien provides him with excellent dialogue, great actions, and a wonderful arc.

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the author presents the tale in a story-within-a-story format.  In other words, one character is telling their story to another character, who in turn is telling it to another, who in turn is telling it to the reader.  My favorite character is actually Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, often referred to as the monster.  He is intriguing and pitiful.  The creation’s murderous actions are horrifying, but he is also a sad character that the reader feels empathy towards.

What are your favorite literary characters?  

My Style of Characterization


My Style of Characterization

by Adam Huddleston

Throughout this month, our writing group will be blogging about our styles and feelings concerning the topic of characterization.  I’m sure that there will be many contrasts and comparisons between direct and indirect characterization in writing.  While I have little more to add than my more experienced peers, I would like to express my favorite style of character description.

I readily admit that I am weak when it comes to direct characterization.  I need to work harder on describing what my characters actually look and sound like.  While I do believe that we should leave some of that up to the reader’s imagination, I do need to strengthen those skills.  I do prefer to show a character acting or reacting a specific way.  By doing this, the reader hopefully gains a better understanding on what the character is like.

For example, in the beginning of my work “Mattie”, the main character is an orphan sent to live with her only remaining relative,  a great aunt.  During the car ride to the aunt’s house, I attempt to portray a slight air of wealth and haughtiness to the older woman by describing how she carries herself and her dialogue with the orphan girl.  It’s not perfect, but I feel that it flows fairly smoothly.

Bathos


Bathos

by Adam Huddlestoon

The literary device this week is: bathos.  It is defined as the use of absurd metaphors, descriptions, or jokes that move a scene from seriousness to silliness.  Typically, an event occurs at the beginning of the scene that is solemn (such as a death), but through the dialogue or actions of the characters, the atmosphere becomes comedic.  An example given on literarydevices.net is that of an episode of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” where a clown is killed by a stampeding elephant.  The characters begin making jokes about it although Mary does not approve.  At the funeral, she begins laughing when she thinks about the jokes, while people around her stare in confusion.  

As a word of caution, if you choose to use bathos in a tense scene, use it sparingly so as not to destroy the mood if your intent was for it to be a somber scene. 

Happy writing!

Malapropism


Malapropism

by Adam Huddleston

This week’s literary term is: malapropism.  It is defined as the use of an incorrect word (usually for comedic effect) with a similar sound in place of the correct word.  For example, in William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”, a character states “Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons” (replacing apprehended and suspicious).  This effect is often used by characters who are either uneducated or wish to appear so.  

I hope this helps in your craft.  Happy writing!

Epigraph


Epigraph

by Adam Huddleston

In the past, I would blog concerning different literary devices.  I really enjoyed that and wanted to revisit some of those old techniques.  I’m not sure if I ever mentioned the “epigraph”, so here goes.

An epigraph is a quotation, song, poem, passage, etc. written by another author and inserted into the beginning of a larger section of writing such as a chapter or book.  The epigraph is meant to provide the reader with guidance on the overall theme is of what they are about to read.  Some examples include: 

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me? — Paradise Lost, X, 743-45
(from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)

If they give you ruled paper, write the other way. — Juan Ramón Jiménez
(from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)

Lawyers, I suppose, were children once. — Charles Lamb
(from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

Another Story: Step Two


Another Story: Step Two

by Adam Huddleston

Last week, I submitted the tagline for a new story.  This week, I’d like to expand it into a paragraph.  It’s a little clunky, and I know I used the word “mage” much too often, but I wanted to show what the expansion looks like.  

A clandestine mage infiltrates a magical cadre responsible for keeping an extra-dimensional portal closed.  After murdering all but one of the group, the portal opens, releasing several deadly creatures that destroy the village and enter the kingdom.  The surviving mage seeks out and finds the last man with magical powers (the secret mages brother), and he reluctantly agrees to help.  After his magical training, he travels to the portal to close it, but his mentor is killed before reaching their goal.  Digging deep within himself, the new mage defeats the creatures and seals the portal. 

Another Story


Another Story

by Adam Huddleston

Several weeks ago, I began a blog series on the Snowflake Method.  I posted my progress on a story I was working on, and to tell you the truth, I just lost interest in the tale.  It’s still there, resting on the back burners with the motley crew of other stories that have seeped from my brain, but I wanted to try out some new content.  If you remember, step 1 is the tagline.

A baker must nurture his magical powers to close an extra-dimensional portal and save his kingdom.