Update 3-23-15

March 23rd, 2015

I hope spring has sprung wherever you call home. After a brutally cold winter, complete with a two week stretch of epic snowfall, spring, such as it is, has come home for another year. It’s been warm enough(40s and 50s) all but one day this week to eat lunch outside wearing a sweater rather than a jacket. My backyard is a shallow pond, just as it is every spring. We’re still two months away from being able to plant things, but once the snowpack is gone – likely next week – the tulips and daffodils will wake up. Most of my rose canes are greening up – the deep snow and mulch kept the beds from freezing too deep. I am so itching to get out there and play in the dirt, and see something pretty, rather than bleak, dirty snow on a monochromatic background.

I’ve made decent progress on Chapter 16. Last night I finished a scene that I discovered was actually very hard to write. For me, dialog is very hard to do well, and I’m never totally sure whether I’ve done it properly. As difficult as ordinary dialog is, it’s harder by an order of magnitude to write dialog between 14 year old girls.

The scene in question involves Laci talking with two of her peers. I’m sorry, but 14 was a lot of years ago, and I’ll be damned if I can remember how my friends and I talked to each other. I’m sure our conversations were littered with the standards, “He goes”, “she goes”, “likes”, and “you knows”. I remember some of the slang terms we used – this was the early 80s, so I think we sounded a lot like Moon Zappa’s “Valley Girl”, and we no doubt inflected a lot of what we said as a question. (“I, like, you know, went to Mary’s last night? And she goes, ‘Wanna get high?’ And I, like, go, ‘Sure,” you know, and she goes, like, ‘I got a dime bag from John’?”

That was then, and things have changed in the intervening 30 years. I don’t have any contact on a regular basis with teen girls of any age, never mind 13 and 14 – the last one was my daughter-in-law when she and my son were going out together during their high school years, and even that was 10 years ago — so I really have no idea how girl’s Laci’s age talk today.

That’s a serious handicap when writing the dialog between three girls talking to each other. I have no desire – or intention – to write phonetic dialog a la “Huckleberry Finn”, but I’d at least like to get the slang and day-to-day idiom correct. Since it’s unlikely I have many teen girls as readers, I suppose I’m less apt to be called out if I’m completely off in the weeds.

Readers who do have frequent opportunities to listen in on “teen girlspeak” might grimace when they “hear” my dialog in their heads, but I can only sigh, do the best I can, and ask for forbearance.

I will say, dialog between Karen and other adults, or even Laci (who consciously – usually — talks in a more adult way when conversing with Karen) is a lot easier – though “easier” is a relative term. In a future chapter, I had to write dialog between Karen and her grandfather in a flashback scene, and even that was easier than relating teenspeak. I talk to elderly men on a daily basis, so their speech patterns and idioms are familiar to me.

In the end, I can only try my best and hope it doesn’t sound too clunky.

I have one other bit of news to report. When I send this update to my web guru for posting, I’m also sending the first installment in the long awaited “Music” page (I still haven’t gotten around to figuring out how I want to design the other additions/changes to the website, but one thing at a time). I’m going to start off with a listing of the music I have in the various playlists I’ve created to listen to as I write. I’ll add comments next to songs as appropriate – not all at once, or I’ll be here until next week.

I guess that’s it for now. As always, I’ll keep plugging away and hope I don’t have too many distractions.