Saturday, 22 December 2007

How much language?

Until I wrote the Securement of Greggie Donald, I'd been writing purely in the contemporary comedy romance genre. Contemporary is used very loosely here since I do have a manuscript set in 1951. But it is still modern times compared to going back to 1687.

And not only that. It was in the Scottish Highlands. Our editor, Cheryl, who had chosen us for this anthology based on previous work she'd had from us, set the theme. A gypsy, a faerie, and the fee - 100 gold coins - the time and the place.

The challenge was to make a convincing world. And look at what a learning curve I was on...

1. Faerie mythology. Thank God for the Internet. I had a vision of Tinkerbell as a faerie. Little Disneyland Tinkerbells fluttering with a wand and spreading good will. Imagine my surprise when I looked up faeries and found the most evil bunch of little beasties imaginable. Talk about choosing the best of a bad bunch! But the idea struck me when I did look them up that set the plot into it's foundations.

2. 1687. Who's lived in this period. I haven't. I have a passion for history, and the history of costume, but that wasn't for novel building. So I had to dive into research. Luckily between my library here at home, and the Internet I was able to crash course myself into 1687. When writing this story I had to make sure I knew what the political situation was, who was King/Queen, what religious conflicts may or may not be taking place at the time, what political unrest or quiet existed. What people were wearing, specially in country areas.

3. Scottish Highlands. I've been there as a tourist. My son swore he saw the Lochness Monster. So I knew what it felt like to be there. But was it enough to be able to make a convincing world set there. And then there was the question which leads to question 4.

4. How much language? We all know that when a Scot gets going comprehension flies out the window for us mere mortals. Believe me. I had a teacher once who used to get excited. Once she got going, I'd understand more of what was going on under my car bonnet, than I did of what she was saying. But how much of this should go into a story before it gets labour intensive?

Luckily for me, I'm a fan of Jane Austen. And read many of the writers of her time and before. But being a fan of Jane Austen also means that I've collected all her DVD's as well. Excellent productions such as that of Pride and Prejudice, starring Colin Firth, the quintessential Mr. Darcy. And because it's so deliciously of a strong sense of time and place, I constantly play it, watch it study it and enjoy it time and time again. So I was able to kind of pick up the sense of moving back further into history using the speech patterns of that time.

I had an excellent list of regular Scottishisms such as 'dinna' for didn't. Canna for cannot. I worried though that the flow of comprehension would be disturbed if she could not be totally understood. I decided that constancy and repetition would be my tools in making sure that the reader would understand her as I did. Thus she would eventually say things such as:

"Sing for me. I have need to be happy."

"Is that all ye'self be wantin'?"

"Aye 'tis all I be wanting."

"And what would ye'self be wantin' me tae sing?"

and:

"Nay. Dinna tell her. She wouldn't care naehow."

"More's the pity she lets ye'self loose with ye wild ways, Sharra Akasha."

Sharra pouted.

"And who's the boy ye've decided is your one true love?"

"Greggie Donald."

1 comment:

EJ McKenna said...

I too thought of faeries and lovely cute things... and the research set me straight. Wow the Scots are a dour old bunch. No good-luck any charms. Everything's out to get you!

It was very grim, which gave me an insight into why my character would be looking for an escape route!