From Kaki Warner: Greetings from the Northwest, Bellas! And Michelle, thanks for inviting me to visit. The topic I’d like to address today is Writing With an Accent.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t read western romances.”?
Me, too. And for a long time I didn’t read them either.
Then one day --we had just moved from the sunny Southwest to the rainy Northwest -- after reading a gawd-awful western romance replete with “colorful” dialogue that was so ludicrous I almost horked up my coffee, I decided to write my own damn book and people it with characters that didn’t sound quite so stooo-pid. It wasn’t the accent that got me. It was the way the author translated the spoken word into the written word. As in, “Now whar’d thet dang cow git off’en to?”
Maybe I’d seen too many “Aw, shucks” western movies in my youth. Or maybe, being newly arrived in the Land-of-No-Sun-for-Months-at-a-Time, I was tired of being looked at with condescension and told, “you talk funny” which meant “you sound highly ignorant and possibly unrefined, and what is that thing? An umbrella?” This from a guy who stood bare-headed in forty degree drizzle wearing scruffy jeans, socks with sandals, and a T-shirt under a down vest. Where I come from, even a pig gets out of the rain, but I said nothing, not wanting to add “rude” to the list of my shortcomings. Not then, anyway.
Admit it. If you read a back cover blurb where the hero rolls a sodden toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other, grins and says, “Ah’d sure like to strap a saddle on you, purty lady,” what would you expect to see on the front cover? Forrest Gump in a Stetson, that’s what. Or even worse, Larry the Cable Guy in a lip-lock with some hapless female (hopefully not his sister).
Luckily nowadays many western romance writers have changed how they portray their characters’ dialogue. So if you’ve shied away from the genre for the same reason I did all those years ago, then it’s time to come back. There are a lot of great authors out there -- Linda Lael Miller, Jodi Thomas, La Vyrle Spencer, Catherine Anderson, etc., and I’m about to be a nearly almost semi-famous author, myself. Give us another try. You might be surprised!
What are some other characteristics of western romances that you like or dislike?
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