Accents: Wednesday Workshop


Wednesday Workshop

We began last night with an absentee — John Sutherland, who was in Nova Scotia for Thanksgiving — and a guest writer — Allan Hudson who, in addition to his fiction maintains a blog called the South Branch Scribbler. This is accessible at

We introduced ourselves and talked about our writing and our writing styles. Kevin Stephens, for example, thinks of himself as a structuralist who plans his writing, in advance, down to the last detail. He uses an Excel spread sheet, with photos of all his characters, heroes and villains, a detailed time line, and notes on all their major characteristics. Chuck Bowie is much looser with his structure and allows his characters to think and plan “on the hoof” so to speak. As a result, he rewrites great chunks of his action as the characters change their minds and tell him what they want to do. Roger Moore is primarily a poet. He works out most things in his head (Think before you Ink) and writes them down when he is ready. He uses notebooks and pen and ink for preference. Allan Hudson spoke of his difficulties as a writer of short fiction. However, the group praised his abilities as the owner of an excellent blog that really supports writers in the region. Chuck and Roger have both appeared on Allan’s blog and both will be happy to feature there again while Kevin and John are both hoping for a first appearance. That is the sort of presence that Allan inspires. In addition, he has some 400-500 visitors to the Blog each week and has recorded a weekly high of over 1,000 visits. These are powerful figures and speak so highly of his blogging talents.

Allan came to the group with a specific question: how do we, as writers, handle dialog? We spoke briefly on this topic, having handled it before. See these two blogs that we summarized in our discussion.

From dialogue we moved on to the use of accents in our writing. We began by stating that it is almost impossible to generate a spoken accent in written print. In part, this is because what we write in our own heads may not be what the reader receives in his or her own head. Then we broke “accent” down into its component parts: (1) the accidents of spoken speech – almost impossible to imitate in writing. (2) the accidents of syntactical change, where a different style of grammar already suggests an accented speaker – this is most certainly achievable and Kevin has managed it in particular with his Russian speakers. (3) the accidents of vocabulary choice – and this too is achievable with relative ease, as Chuck has shown in his Mancunian and Rumanian speech patterns (Steal it all). And (4) the insertion of selected colloquial phrases – boyo, and warra teg, for the Welsh; och aye, for the Scots; mon ami, for the French … such phrasing coupled with elements of 2 and 3 above help overcome the difficulties expressed in 1 above.

We then moved on to discuss the function of writing groups. Some groups exchange writing and commentate on member submissions. We do this from time to time, usually on a one on one basis. More important, perhaps, we submit questions to each other, as with the dialogue / accent examples above. Then we discuss moments of difficulty in the writing with which we are currently engaged. From the many open suggestions placed on the table, the author can then figure out his preferred options. Above all, we see ourselves as a support group for writers, ourselves and others. This means that at one level, we rejoice at the good news and lament the bad news. However, at another level, we help each other in very specific ways. One concrete example, John came over to my house and helped me create my account on CreateSpace. Then he talked / walked me through the placing of Monkey Temple online at Amazon and Kindle. I now have seven books online available worldwide at Amazon and Kindle. Without his help, I might never have taken this step.

We began at 7:00 pm and at 9:50 pm the gentleman in charge of The Second Cup announced that they were closing in ten minutes. Such is the power of friendship, group ethics, and the spoken word. I don’t think we counted the seconds or the passing time. “And a great time was had by all.”





21 thoughts on “Accents: Wednesday Workshop

  1. (It’s been awhile since I’ve had the energy to spend much time online for other than a new post here and there, so I’ve only just seen this one of yours (and your and Meg’s back and forth). I published my first tiny tome via CreateSpace and will be doing so with the novel. The forums on CS are the closest I’ve gotten to any sort of ‘writers’ group’, but many of the members are so very helpful. Between CS and Goodreads…and the blogs…this whole writing thing has given me some of the most enjoyable moments of my retirement!

    Glad you shared those links, by the way, Roger! I’ve finally caught myself up-to-date on your October posts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • Email’s the thing 😀 I need to catch up on my correspondence. Do you know how hard it is to keep emails organized? Good lord, I miss the postal service!! I’d SO much prefer to write a letter, even if I had to type it! But, alas, email is quicker. I need to get a printer and keep physical files!

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s the handwriting. It’s so personal. Sure I scrawl and write badly, but it’s me. I work with seventeenth century manuscripts: the man is dead; he died 400 years ago; but this is what he wrote; he touched this page. He? I have worked with the mss. of St. Teresa of Avila. SHE! Same thing. Goose bumps and a tremendous sense of privilege and humility. Love you, Pearl: but we both know this isn’t quite the same thing. Then, you’ve seen my scrawl.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You know what, I LIKE your scrawl. It reminds me of someone very special: my dad. Mama called it “the college educated script”! Lectures and notes, notes from lectures, notes, notes and furiously fast-ly scribbled notes!

        Now, if your ‘scrawl’ was a bit larger… 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve tried to read some of the old ms’s, like the most easily accessible online and some are easily discernible, while others are difficult to make out, because for all that the lettering is perfectly linear and even, they’re very small. Your scrawl isn’t such a scrawl as it is worthy of the ancient, brilliant sages!! That’s a compliment, buddy!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Pearl. Part of my writing problem is that my writing speed is slower than my thought speed. To get it all down is therefore a speed challenge. hence the scribble. Quevedo used to drink while writing: there was quite a difference between the beginning of a manuscript and the end of it! I use an italic pen if I want to be slow and legible. That brushes off into my other writing and it becomes more legible for a while.

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      • (grins and shakes head!) I can sympathize 🙂 When I’m “in the zone” my pen flies over the paper…then I have to decode the hen scratch. So usually, when I’m drafting chapters, I must do so on a QWERTY keyboard, just so I can keep up with my thoughts and even then it’s a challenge, because although once I get on a roll I can type between 85wpm & 135wpm, sometimes my finger placement strays one character over. This will translate into: z’Gp;frf Ftrs,d – s mpbr; nu z[rst; zlotlnuzz’ instead of “Folded Dreams – a novel by Pearl Kirkby! Try having to re-translate a dozen pages of all THAT!!

        Liked by 1 person

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