With competition today from TV, video games, and sports, writers have a challenge to produce the best stories possible to keep the attention of their readers. This can cover a wide continuum from slower-paced character studies to fast-paced action, but always there should be a thread pulling the reader through the storyline.
The challenge with colloquialisms is to use just enough to set the stage or the character, but not so much that it is difficult to understand and slows the pace as the reader tries to sort it out. Take Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer as an example. Probably many of you read this book in school at one time or another. It is full of colloquialisms that give flavor to the Hannibal Missouri setting and the 1800s, but unless you’re able to immerse yourself in all that, it can be a tough read for today’s youth due to the liberally scattered expressions. Here an example: “Can’t Mars, Tom. Ole Missus, she tole me I got to go an git dis water and not stop foolin’ roun’ wid anybody.”
Other areas this crops up is in Scottish set historicals with all their dinna and verra and “Do ye no?” Oh--I do love those rolled rrrrrr's!
A writer’s job is to figure out just how many colloquialisms to use to capture the flavor of the characters and setting without distracting from the story or slowing the pacing. Considerations include whether it is a central character or a "walk-on" or "extra."
Since I write western romances, I use colloquialisms such as "waken snakes" which means to start an argument or fight. Then there is “pulled foot” which means to leave in a hurry. One of my favorite expressions is “feelin’ finer than frog hair.
Can you think of any favorite expressions that are used in your locale or ones’ you’ve read in a book? I’d love to hear some new ones…
For one lucky commenter, I’ll be giving away an autographed copy of my new release ~ Texas Wedding for their Baby’s Sake from Harlequin Historicals.