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Archive for March, 2014

To celebrate St Patrick’s Day, let’s identify some of the more common words and phrases that identify your character as an Irish man or woman.

Here are a few to sprinkle your character’s idiolect (personal language) with:

  1. Acting the maggot = acting the fool, joking
  2. Banjaxed = broken, ruined
  3. Craic = gossip, chat
  4. Ceilidh = dancing and music
  5. Colleens = young girls
  6. Cod – eg making a cod of himself = making a fool of himself
  7. Eejit = idiot
  8. Gob = animal mouth
  9. Press  = cupboard(as in Linen Press)
  10. Soft day = drizzle, mist
  11. Wet the tea = make the tea
  12.  I have no money at all at all (for emphasis)
  13.  No ‘yes’ or ‘no’ so:  ‘Are you coming home soon?’/I am./I am not!
  14.  I’m after hitting him with the car = I hit him with the car
  15. She’s after losing five stone. (Intention)
  16. T’is herself that’s coming now. (Emphasis)
  17. I can speak Irish, so I can. (Emphasis)
  18. Sure, I can just go on Wednesday.
  19.  I will not, to be sure
  20. Will I make a cup of tea?

Your character’s speeches can provide information that will move the plot forward. But speech can also play an important role in characterization by placing the character in the context of space and time. You can pinpoint his or her place of origin – whether it’s Ulster or Ottery St Mary – by offering the reader words and grammatical structures found only in that place. Sometimes this can be accurate to an uncanny degree!

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So where do you keep all those jottings you produce about the experiences that lend meaning to your existence? And where do you record all those interesting little details you observe on your way through life and which may contribute to your writing some day in the most unexpected and original ways? A personal journal ? A writers’ notebook?

Which of the following would you deposit where?

  1. Observations
  2. Overheard Conversations
  3. Lists
  4. Longings
  5. Musical notes
  6. Letter drafts
  7. Names for characters
  8. Useful quotations from your readings
  9. Unsaid responses to someone
  10. Story idea
  11. Memories
  12. Dreams
  13. A poem
  14. A fantasy conversation (dialogue)
  15. Titles
  16. Floor plans for imaginary buildings
  17. Sketches and cartoons
  18. Newspaper cuttings
  19. Postcards
  20. Anything else?

Remember in your personal journal you are quite often looking inside at what you think and feel. In a notebook, as a writer, you survey the world as a craftsperson surveys his or her raw materials.

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