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.

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)

Over the Hill


Over the Hill

by Adam Huddleston

I stand at the top of the hill.  My forties stretch out before me.  In the distance, I can see where the land rises to another hill, somewhat shorter than this one.  I suppose its normal for a person to evaluate their life when they reach certain milestones.  Tim McGraw sang about his future after turning thirty, though I have no idea if that song was written then or not.

Some resolutions:

1.  Focus more on family. I feel that I do a pretty good job overall of spending time with my kids, but I could always do more.  A little less tv watching and a few more piggyback rides will go a long way toward a closer bond.

2.  Focus more on God.  That bible on my shelf gets opened, but not nearly enough.  I’m actually looking forward to starting a reading plan, more specifically, a comprehensive one that covers the entire scriptures.

3.  Focus more on my health.  A few years ago I had dropped about forty pounds and was feeling great.  My self-esteem was higher and I could tie my shoes without getting winded!  A visit to my doctor is in order, but even if that doesn’t happen soon, fewer late-night meals and soft drinks will surely help.

4.  Focus more on writing.  I recently moved all of my written works from my old laptop to my newer one.  It’s actually quite exciting to see all my old friends in their new place and I’m looking forward to finishing some of those drafts.

Snowflake Method (cont.)-A


Snowflake Method (cont.)

by Adam Huddleston

Last week, I began my attempt at using the snowflake method created by author Randy Ingermanson.  This week, I’ll continue with Step 3.

Step 3: Write a one-sentence summary of each major character and a paragraph summarizing their goals, conflicts, and overall changes.

Dwight Lara (major character)- A new baseball recruit uses black magic to lead his team to the championship.

Dwight Lara, a twenty-three year old center fielder from Nassau, Bahamas is drafted by the Amarillo Yellowjackets midway through their season when they find themselves at the bottom of their division.  Seeking to help his team, he secretly begins using black magic spells he had learned growing up in the Caribbean. The payment for each hex is the loss of a human life. As the season draws towards its conclusion, Dwight begins feeling more remorseful for each death he causes.  When his deeds are discovered by the manager, he resolves to stop immediately. The manager however presses him to continue, and prior to the championship game, has the player’s son murdered in an attempt to win it all. Although the team is victorious, Dwight kills his coach and performs his final spell, a deed which causes the entire stadium to collapse, taking the lives of everyone.

Stephen Craight (major character)- A losing baseball team’s general manager forces his new player to continue his deadly methods of helping the team win.

Stephen Craight, a fifty-six year old general manager of the Amarillo Yellowjackets drafts Dwight Lara in an attempt to resurrect their season.  He discovers Dwight performing black magic in a little-used area of the locker room but says nothing when he realizes that the team is now winning every game.  His new player has a change of heart near the end of the season, so in an attempt to win the championship, he has Dwight’s son murdered. Lara discovers what has happened and kills Craight once the championship game is over.  

 

Snowflake Method


Snowflake Method

By Adam Huddleston

Over the next few weeks, I will be attempting to use the snowflake method created by novelist Randy Ingermanson to outline a horror story that I’m working on.

Step 1.  The one-sentence tagline

A new baseball recruit uses black magic to turn around his team’s failing season.

Step 2.  Expanding the tagline into a full paragraph

When the Amarillo Yellowjackets find themselves at the bottom of their division, they recruit a mysterious center-fielder in the hopes of turning their season around.  As their luck begins to change, a startling fact becomes apparent; fans are dying at their games. The club manager discovers that his new player is a master of black magic, and is responsible for the tragedies.  When the team makes the championship series, conflict arises between player and coach concerning the fielder’s role on the team. The aftermath of their feud results in the greatest horror yet.

Step 3.  Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each main character

To be continued next week!