Aphelion Issue 190, Volume 18
November 2014
 
Editorial    
Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Poetry
Features
Series
Archives
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Live Chat
Forum
   

Hello and welcome to the November issue of Aphelion Webzine!

Some nights it's so dark the road seems t' swallow your headlights like a hungry monster. You wind up leanin' up in your seat, just t' see th' lines on the road better. Looks almost like th' whole world ends just beyond th' edge of your vision. No moon, clouds blottin' out th' stars, no streetlights or stores to break th' endless, hungry night. That's what tonight was like. A starvin' monster, suckin' up all the light in th' universe...

That's an example of dialog using a moderately-heavy accent to convey a bit more information about your character to your reader. Somewhat better than an opening info-dump where you might simply tell your reader that your character is from the Southern US. Probably Texas, if the dropped final letters to some words is anything by which to judge, but generally Southern, in any case. The thicker the accent, the more apostrophes you'd have to employ. This is one of the trickier tools in a writer's toolbox. It's easy to over-indulge in written accents. You run the risk of losing your reader's attention as they slow down their reading to puzzle out how the character's voice is supposed to sound.

For best effect, your accented character should be played off against one without an accent. That way the contrast between the two stands out more clearly. You don't have to have another character to play off against, though. You can have entire pages of dialog between characters who all have accents, but your readers might get tired of struggling through totally accurate phonetic reproduction of an accent. If you over-do the accent, you wind up giving your reader what amounts to a foreign language to puzzle out. Anything that slows your reader down is best used lightly and infrequently.

Other versions of writing in accents are to use misspelled words, or malapropisms, or to leave out the spaces between some words as if the characters are used to running those together into a single word. Another version would drop words from a totally different language into the dialog--French, Spanish, German, Yiddish, and so on. An accent can be used to give your characters more--well, character so to speak. When you get it right, the words just flow and the character becomes more alive in your reader's minds. When you get it wrong, you run the risk of a reader giving up in exasperation, never to actually finish reading your story.

I suppose you could think of accents as if they were different pigments on a painter's palette. Thick, heavy accents are oil paints. Lighter accents are watercolors. Writing while using that sort of concept equates to painters using mixed media. Another way to think about accents is that they are akin to different costumes for your characters to wear. Cowboy hats, or a tuxedo, or plaid flannel shirts--that sort of thing, but remember, an accent is something that needs to come from within the character. Not some sort of fancy gloss painted atop them, but part of who they are.

I suppose my message is best boiled down to accents can help bring a character to life, but if overdone can just as easily smother them. Don't avoid the use of accents, but do try and make the ones you use appear natural to that particular character. Your Writer's Toolbox should always be kept full, and your tools sharp and polished. Read many different sorts of writing. Not just what you enjoy most, but things totally out of your comfort zone as well. Everything you read, everything you see, everything you hear becomes a resource to draw upon while you are writing. A character's voice can be a powerful addition to your reader's enjoyment of your work.

Dan



BOILERPLATE:

First off, if you do the Facebook thing, feel free to join us on the Aphelion page there. The link is Aphelion Webzine. As an aside, the Editorial Mafia and I have found Facebook to be useful while we transition between e-mailing lists. Given our different locations and schedules, it's come in handy as a way to discuss production details of new issues. Sometimes there are several of us using Facebook at the same time, so it's almost like the old chat room days.

Dan's Music Page This is my promo page here at Aphelion. All the links below, and more information about the albums, are located here.

The Never Bank On A Learning Curve CD on the Create Space website. My first album, with a wide range of styles and genres, covering the past three years of my working with the MAGIX Music Maker programs.

The Second Helping CD on the Create Space website. My second album, with just as wide a range of different musical styles, showing just how much I've learned in the past three years.

Dan's Studio-D Page on the Bandcamp website. Digital downloads of the albums, or each individual song if you prefer it that way. Just click on the album cover thumbnails and you'll see a list of each song on the album. Next to the song titles are links to read the liner notes, or to download the individual song. You can listen to each song for free. There is also a link to download each entire album at one go. I cannot say enough about Bandcamp! This is an amazing website. I have Rob, and many other friends, to thank for finally talking me into checking it out.

Here are some links to pages I have up promoting my music. When my book comes out I'll add those links to the promotion page, too. So far, there are links on that page to the Create Space Preview songs, the Create Space page for each album, the Amazon.com listings, and the link to the digital downloads page.

And here's a link to my Sound Cloud page:

Dan's Sound Cloud Page where all my music has been stored for your free listening pleasure. These are not as high a quality recordings as the ones on the CDs or on Bandcamp. But SoundCloud does have the virtue of having everything collected together in one place.

Check those links out, buy a CD or download if you like what you hear. And once again, thank you for your time,

Dan all my music has been stored for your free listening pleasure. These are not as high a quality recordings as the ones on the CDs or on Bandcamp. But SoundCloud does have the virtue of having everything collected together in one place.

Check those links out, buy a CD or download if you like what you hear. And once again, thank you for your time,

Dan


_______________
ON THE COVER

Title: Hubble Watches Super Star Create Holiday Light Show.
Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-Hubble/Europe Collaboration.