Thanks so much, Kacey, for having me on your blog 🙂
So, I guess it comes as little surprise that I love words. I’ve the very great privilege of being able to write stories and see them published, and so the fact I love words is probably kind of redundant. However, there is a point to this!
My critique partner and F4E, Lucy Clark, and I were discussing syntax and colloquialisms the other day at our weekly catch ups. She posted about it at our blog, Cassandra and Lucy – it’s a great read peeps! Anyhoo, this got me to thinking about one of the ways I strive to create my stories, by having the syntax of a character’s accent right.
Some of my favourite shows have taken this to extreme, creating a particular way of how the characters speak until it seems the show has developed its own language. My Writing God, Joss Whedon, did this brilliantly in Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, such that some of his slang has entered common usage. David Milch brought swearing to an art form in Deadwood, and the way his characters ruminated on a situation approached poetry. Spartacus (Blood and Sand, Gods of the Arena, Vengeance and the upcoming War of the Damned) has characters speak in almost a formal way, a sort of Shakespearean dialogue punctuated with the most delicious profanity.
In much the same manner, I LOVE when an author puts words together in such a way that you know the character is from a particular place. I love it even more when they do this without visual cues, such as apostrophes in place of letters or misspelling of words to the point where you can’t tell what the word is supposed to be.
It’s something I try very hard to achieve in my own work, and something that was giving me all manner of trouble in my latest release, ROUGH DIAMOND.
ROUGH DIAMOND is set in the old west and, despite my love for Deadwood, I just didn’t ‘hear’ Western voices in my head. (wow, that makes me sound kind of crazy, doesn’t it?) It was causing me all manner of trouble. My hero, Rupert, is English, and I know the English syntax back to front (many misspent hours watching UKTV – Misfits, Being Human, Pride and Prejudice and, of course, Doctor Who…), but I wasn’t as confident with my heroine, Alice’s, voice or indeed, any other character. Seeing as the tale is set in Western Escape’s Freewill, Wyoming, this was causing a bit of an issue!
So I borrowed my friend’s DeadwoodDVDs (Note to self – buy DeadwoodDVDs) and immersed myself. I read Western-themed books, watched Firefly (another Joss Whedon show, with a language created solely for the show – a mix of Westernisms and Joss brilliance), and just generally tried to hear a western voice in my head. Finally, sloooooowly, it came! Hopefully successfully 😀 Here’s an excerpt of ROUGH DIAMOND and you can see for yourself!
Lifting the glass, Alice studied its contents. “There is nothing quite like the enjoyment you get from a good whiskey. There’s the look and color of it, and the way it burns in the light.”
“It’s the same color as your eyes,” Llewellyn breathed, his own wide and empty of thought.
A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. That’s right. Fool me into thinking there’s not an ounce of calculation to your words. “Is it? Mighty kind of you to notice.”
A happy grin was her response.
Well now, she was surely going to enjoy this. Setting her own half-smile, she tilted her glass, watching as the whiskey caught the light of the candle. “Have you ever noticed the feel of glass? It’s smooth against your fingers, and though the whiskey burns you, the glass is cool. It seems strange, doesn’t it? That such fire could come from something so cool.”
Intensely aware of his gaze upon her, she brought the glass to rest on her bottom lip. “You lift the glass to your lips, and all that coolness rests upon your flesh. The scent of the whiskey hits you, sweet and fiery. Your mouth waters, and you can’t wait to have it inside you. Slowly, so slowly, you tip the glass, teasing yourself as long moments in want of its taste stretch unbearably.”
He no longer wore a smile. Dark eyes watched her as strong fingers dug into the glass before him.
A prickle washed over her skin, her heart a steady beat in her chest. With hushed voice, she continued. “Liquid slides down your throat. The flavor explodes inside you, a glorious rush of sensation that overwhelms and consumes. You curl your tongue, enjoying the lingering sensation in every part of your mouth. Then, you look at the bottle.” Finally, she met his gaze direct. No subterfuge. No tease. “And you know you can do it again.”
Thanks so much for stopping by!
And here’s all the bits and pieces!
Rough Diamond Blurb
Owner of the Diamond Saloon and Theater, Alice Reynolds is astounded when a fancy Englishman offers to buy her saloon. She won’t be selling her saloon to anyone, let alone a man with a pretty, empty-headed grin…but then, she reckons that grin just might be a lie, and a man of intelligence and cunning resides beneath.
Rupert Llewellyn has another purpose for offering to buy the pretty widow’s saloon—the coal buried deep in land she owns. However, he never banked on her knowing eyes making him weak at the knees, or how his deception would burn upon his soul.
Each determined to outwit the other, they tantalize and tease until passion explodes. But can their desire bridge the lies told and trust broken?
6 thoughts on “Cassandra Dean’s ROUGH DIAMOND”
Thanks so much for having me over, Kacey 😀
Yes, I really enjoy when the character's heritage is revealed subtly through the dialogue. All the best with your new release! 🙂
This is a really great post. A character's voice is so important. Sometimes it's hard not to have everyone sound alike or your own voice intrude. Whenever I used to feel a spate of over-wordy, over-flowery hero coming on, I'd dose myself with Rescue Me to get a handle on guy-talk.
Glad to have you here, Cassandra!Thnx Jess & Taryn for stopping by.
Thanks so much, Jessica! It's a big thing with me, the way dialogue is used. As an example, I LOVED The Avengers because, amongst many other amazing reasons, each character 'sounded' completely different. I bet if you were to read the script, you'd be able to tell who was who from dialoge alone, without even glancing at the character names.*sigh* Gosh, I love Joss Whedon ;p
Thanks Taryn! Yeah, I have to catch myself sometimes too. I constantly worry that my characters sound too much the same. It is my cross to bear 😉
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