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Showing posts from January, 2012

To My Old Master

This is something I found tonight: a letter written by a former American slave in 1865 to his former master, who had written previously asking the slave to return to the plantation. For me, it's an example of the power of old letters and other primary documents--it brings history alive.
From the blog Letters of Note:
To My Old Master


Confabulation or, "Describing things in excruitiating detail"

I was cruising Twitter two days ago and came across a tweet with this link: Our friend, confabulation

Confabulation is defined as: the replacement of a gap of a person's memory by a falsification that he or she believes may be true.

It's conjecture, basically. As explained in the link, confabulation is what gives writers the chance to only minimally describe characters and settings--and the reader will fill in the rest. You know how you and your friend can both read the same book at the same time, yet have two completely different images of the lead characters?

I'm not great at description. I think I'm sort of finding the happy middle ground between describing every last little thing and very spare description just now and that's only because I have figured out how to move a plot along.

But I want to describe all my characters--how their mouths move when they talk and what their cheekbones look like and how they walk. I've found myself sitting at my laptop, goi…

The Would-Be Assassination(s) of King George

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I've cracked open another book. This time, it's history, and it's about Regency England. 
I'm only a few pages in, but I've already read about an American visitor to England in the period, who kept journals of his visit, and of course, about the madness of King George. 
And I learned something quite interesting. On May 15, 1800, at the Drury Lane Theatre in London, George III was standing in the royal box. The national anthem was playing. Then, from the audience, a shot rang out, aimed at the king. It missed and the man who fired, James Hatfield, was tried for treason and acquitted by reason of insanity. The trial brought about the passing of the Criminal Lunatics Act of 1800.
I only bring this incident up because my story (which I read all the way through today for the first time in months) begins in spring 1800. I think it would be an interesting story to include, perhaps with my fictional lord telling my fictional Miles all about it. 
The book is about the Regency a…

The accents of Downton Abbey

A little addition I found via twitter. From The Dialect Blog.

Edited to add: This is, of course, an addition to the English Accents in My Head post.

http://dialectblog.com/2012/01/19/accents-in-downton-abbey

Edited to add: 3/19/13:

As this is a popular post, I would add that the Crawley family speak, as Dialect Blog says, in Received Pronunciation. The servants tend to speak in Yorkshire accents (I know that Joanne Froggatt, for example, who is from Yorkshire, said that her Anna accent is a slower, period Yorkshire accent. Sophia McShera is also from Yorkshire, as is Jim Carter). Other servants speak in generic northern English accents or Lancashire/ Cheshire/ Manchester accents.

Words With Friends

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You know, for a girl who has spent most of her life with a pen in hand, writing snarky observations or with her near-sighted eyes stuck in a book---

I have a shameful vocabulary.

Like, as I'm writing, I realize that I use some words over and over again. But my overused words are never words like "behoove" or "anodyne" or "ancillary." They range more towards "really", "almost," "actually" and "never."

And that's just my written vocabulary, which is far better than my spoken vocabulary. While speaking, I tend to grunt more than actually talk and then there's the inevitable slip into bleep-worthy words. I'm a New Yorker. I can't help my profanity-laced conversation.

I have a friend who is a Scrabble aficionado; Scrabble, which is, of course, a lot like the popular online game Words With Friends. This friend peppers casual conversation with words like "behoove","bemused" and "…

Winter Reading

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I received an Amazon gift card for Christmas from my cousin, I caught an infection that had me home from work and lying on the couch for about a week, and my computer's trackpad decided that it was going to be difficult and required the laptop to stay overnight at the shop. Plus, it's winter, it gets darker earlier, it's cold and I hibernate.

All of that means that I have acquired new books.


While I was sick, I read and finished The Hobbit. Funnily enough, I owned the book for years and never finished it. I think my infatuation with the Rings trilogy caused me to be jarred a little by the far jollier tone of The Hobbit. But, of course, since the movie is being filmed and Peter Jackson posts videos from the set and the teaser trailer came out, I figured it was time to actually read the book. Cheered me up a lot. I can't wait to see it on screen; it's going to be amazing.

I also bought Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks--I'm on page 143. Birdsong takes place in the Edw…

A Thousand Pageviews!

Hey everyone,

Just a quick post to say thank you--The Sunflower Snarks has hit 1003 views this afternoon.

Will post more a more substantial post soon--I'm nearly done with my first draft and I got some new reading material I'd like to share with you.

The English accents in my head

Another line from You Know You're a Writer When...


Sometimes you think in an English accent. 


Guilty as charged. I blame this propensity for thinking in some form of British accent or another while writing a British-set story. It's awkward, though, when you're out with your very American friends in New York--you know, the city that I am native to--and you pronounce the word "literally" like "litch-rally."

When I write dialogue, I have that classic writer thing of having different voices in my head, with their different accents, speaking. I think that's where writers can be considered schizophrenic.

Clearly, we don't have recordings from 1800 or even from 1820, so my characters' voices are taking on a definite RP quality as they talk. "RP" is short for Received Pronunciation, which is basically the default British accent Americans think of. BBC English. Jane Austen adaptations. It's the standard English accent taught to actors as…