The Horror of Dialect

In a creative writing class I had several years ago, the teacher cautioned against writing in dialect.  The irony was that at the same time I was taking an Advanced Placement English class that assigned several books written in that particular style. Throughout high school and subsequently college I have periodically read books written in dialect, and I can see why it isn’t common place anymore.

“There Eyes Were Watching God” is often hailed as a classic, and assigned in classrooms all across the country.  I struggled to get through it, I could barely make out what the characters were saying.  I love reading, obviously since I’m a writer, but reading books written entirely or mostly in dialect is an insurmountable challenge for me.  I can figure it out, but my brain wants to fix the words which means it makes reading slow.

Authors are called to “show nor tell” in their stories, and writing in dialect is one way to accomplish that.  To me, though this shows the pitfalls of relying too heavily on showing and not implementing it wisely.  Sometimes, writing short bursts of dialogue, such as a few lines, might be a creative way to show a character’s accent.  Writing an entire book that way is clunky.  That isn’t me saying I claim to be a better writer than these classical authors, but I share this perspective to let others know that if they feel the same, they aren’t alone.  If you are like me, then dialect can be not only clunky, but distracting from the overall plot.  Thank goodness it is a product of the past.

What is “Crystal Moon?”

My latest book is out, and it isn’t a part of the running series GoandriaCrystal Moon is something that has a lot of meaning to me.  It is inspired by real people, real events, and real lessons in an Urban Fantasy setting.

A few years ago, I read Dracula and was intrigued by the letter format.  It felt like a good way to get insights into what the characters were feeling while being able to show the story more subtly.  Writing in first person was challenging, especially with the first draft.  It was difficult not to riddle the pages with “I” while at the same time having it flow in a way a real journal would.

One of my goals for Crystal Moon is to step outside of my comfort zone.  Writing Fantasy is what I know and love, with the typical swords, magic and bows.  Yet, as is the nature of stories, it morphed from my original idea of a comedy into an Urban Fantasy Thriller.

After rewrites and additions, it is finally available to the public, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing the story.  A lot of my heart and emotions went into it.  Come, laugh, cry, and shake your head with me here.

How Dare Book Adaptions be Different!

Ever notice how book adaptions, either movies or television, differ greatly from their source?  This happens so often that if a television series or film does stick close to the book they are based on it is incredibly rare.  Most people know this, however there is almost always universal outrage when a film dares to take liberties with the story.  Why is that?  Why are people surprised by this?

When we read a book, we set up certain expectations for the story.  Things look and feel slightly different in the story for each reader.  This individual experience creates an emotional bond with the characters and world created within the book.  That’s perfectly fine and to be expected if the author did his or her job correctly.  When the story is adapted into another medium there are changes and inevitably some people become disappointed.  Disappointment isn’t bad, and some adaptions of stories are indeed subpar.  I feel the constant backlash and surprise when an adaption differs is silly.  Film is a different medium than books.  A movie or television series due to the very means in which they tell a story must differ from a book or comic.

A book’s job is to show, not tell, to be descriptive while allowing room for the imagination to fill in the blank as much as possible.  A film still needs to show, but relies much less on imagination than a book.  Subtle details are impossible to avoid in a movie and on top of that it must hold the viewers’ attentions and leave them with wanting more.  Sometimes, the source material doesn’t go very deep due to its target audience and film makers want to flesh out one-dimensional characters.  The movies may not succeed at their goal, but I can acknowledge their intent.

The Hobbit films are often criticized as terrible adaptions.  It is a trilogy of movies based off a short novel written for children.  There are quite a few deviations from the book, the same can be said of the Lord of the Rings movies as well though, which are not criticized nearly as much.  This isn’t about defending The Hobbit films, I respect why people don’t like them.  They are a perfect illustration for my point.  They are films that are very different from the book they were based on.  The book was written before The Lord of the Rings and had a very different feel to it.  The elves were silly, the goblins were less-than threatening, and you have talking animals.  The entire tone changed so much with its sequel that it leaves quite a bit of continuity errors.  I adore Tolkien, but the explanation that Bilbo wrote the first book and Frodo wrote the sequels is something I’m familiar with.  I feel that is a weak explanation.  The Hobbit films tried to rectify that in some areas, some of which I feel they did a good job, while others not so much.  Whether someone agrees or disagrees with me is fine, but anyone would have to admit there are more factors going into the disappointment The Hobbit films wrought than merely not being true to their source.  These films made a bold decision to draw out the story longer than it was, and show other sides to characters, and because it didn’t meet many people’s standards they are maligned.

Perhaps we need to stop being so surprised when film makers take liberties?  Movies and Television are different means of telling stories, and we should expect as much.  The option is always to stick with books because they are generally better than any adaption anyway due to their ability to go deeper and not be constrained to a certain time frame.

Border Collie Musings

July has been one of the hardest months for my family.  Without warning we lost our main source of income, and this happened one month after we just got a border collie named Syrup.  Anyone who has dogs knows the first year they are very expensive due to spaying/neutering and shots.

I grew up with border collies and absolutely love the breed, and from the first day we brought Syrup home my family was in love.  Then on July 5th we lost our income and my wife and I feared we would lose Syrup.  As one can imagine it hasn’t been easy, but through it all Syrup has been a bright spot in each of our lives.  She is a gentle, sweet-hearted dog that knows exactly how to comfort her family, despite being only a few months old.  My wife and I have resolved no matter what financial struggles come our way, Syrup will remain a part of the family no matter what.  No parent would give away a child just because their income was lost, and the same goes for our dog.

Through it all, it has been difficult to write.  The stress, the exhaustion from being stressed, along with the never-ending job hunt has put this job on the back burner.  I’ve tried a few freelancing gigs, which paid little, applied to scores of jobs, but it appears this is where I’m supposed to be for the time being.  I’m now armed with an adorable border collie at my feet, and a reminder every day that no matter what happens, she is a bright spot for my family, and an inspiration of what love should be.  Imagine if humans loved as unconditionally as some animals do?  What if we all showed grace and patience with everyone, including those who wronged us?  These are just a few musings I have.  Even with growing up with dogs, it is a sweet reminder just how caring they can be in the darkest moments.

As always this stirs up inspiration within me as a writer.  Humans can and are often as caring animals, but why is it often so difficult to see?  Many times, it is easier for an animal lover such as myself to see the good in animals more than humans.  Is it in our nature to be harsher with our own species than an animal that is cute and soft?  Dogs and especially cats can have bad attitudes and disappoint us.  They why do they seem to get more of a pass than an unpleasant person?  Is it because we expect more from sentient beings, knowing that animals don’t always know better?  These are the sorts of things I ponder as an author.  That is what’s strange about what I do, literally everything is fair game for inspiration, including a sweet little puppy who is there no matter what.