Saturday, 10 November 2012

Weekend Dialogue 1

Conversations … casual and less so.

For any reader who has read my novels they will know I’ve been writing in different sub-genres of romance. My historical novel, The Beltane Choice, uses vastly different vocabulary and speech rhythms from those that are in my contemporary novels. 

This post is a follow on to one I have recently made on Friday 9th Nov.2012 for  where I highlighted the subject of listening to, and responding to, real live conversations. This prompted me to think about how I use dialogue, and how my writing of it could be improved.  

Since I write historical and contemporary novels, my techniques in dialogue writing have to be very different. 

A few months ago, when guesting on another author’s blog, I created a 'for fun' comparative study of my use of dialogue. At that time, I had a contemporary novel, and a Celtic Britain historical novel, both launching onto the buying scene within the same month. What follows now is a revamp of that post.

In The Beltane Choice I’ve used what I’d call antiquated language to give a very ancient feel to it, since the date is A.D.71 For that, I had to be thinking about more than just the actual vocabulary used. I needed to be aware of the cadences in the speech to ensure they didn’t resemble current speech patterns, and getting into the ‘heads’ of my characters was a lovely challenge.

I’ve taken a section where my hero (a Viggo Mortensen, as Aragorn in The Lord of The Rings, look-alike) talks to his captive, Nara. She’s a Selgovae princess. In usual circumstances the Selgovae were mortal enemies of the Brigantes, but the advance of the Roman Empire has altered the usual state of affairs. 

I’m giving you my historical version first, followed by how I would write that scene if I were writing one of my contemporary novels like - Take Me Now. 

Original extract from The Beltane Choice: 

Lorcan had been thinking long and hard about what to do with her once they reached Garrigill. Since knowing her princess status he had planned a positive method of using her abduction, the recent conversation with Gyptus’s warriors making him decide to speed up the process. Now he needed Nara to believe in his plan.

“Nay, Brigante.” Slapping at his arms, Nara of Tarras’s manner was unyielding. “You are mistaken. Callan will not negotiate.”

“Why continue this pretence? You hold high status in your tribe.”

“Callan of Tarras will not bargain.”

Her jaw was so set, her voice almost to shouting level. The vehemence could not be faked, but Lorcan was not ready to take her at her word just yet. He maintained his level tone. “Then I will know the truth. There is much you have not told me.”

“In that you are correct.”

Nara jumped up and stomped off, gaining little ground before he snaked his arm around her shoulders. Pushing him away her chide was as brutal as the sharp blades flashing from her eyes, her mouth whipcord lean.

“You declared you would not touch me. You are just like your warriors.”

“Aye. I lust after you like every man of my band, but I am the one who prevents them from accosting you.”
Nara’s furious face held his attention for a moment before he continued. “Perhaps I am wrong? It may be you would not deem their advances unasked for?”

Lorcan loathed it that she misunderstood his motives. Restraining his anger he sought to explain his reasoning.

“You are beautiful, Nara. They must believe they cannot have you because I deem it so. That gives you a measure of safety.”

And now for something contemporary. This is how I would have written the same scene if it had been in my contemporary novel Take Me Now:

Lorcan wondered what the hell he was going to do with her once they reached his house, at Garrigill. She was a bloody princess! He’d thought about how best to tackle the consequences of her abduction. He had a damned good plan…but he needed Nara on board.   

“No way, Brigante!” Nara, princess of Tarras, slapped at his arms. “You’re an idiot. Callan won’t negotiate.”

“What the friggin’ heck do you mean? You’re a prime hostage.”

 “Callan of Tarras won’t bargain a cent!”

Her jaw was so set, her voice shrill.  Lorcan could see she meant business, but he wouldn’t take her word for it, not yet. He kept his tone level.  “So, enlighten me. Spill those secrets you’ve not told me about.”

“My secrets are mine.”

Nara jumped up and stomped around, only pulled up by his arm hook around her shoulders.  Pushing him away her tongue lashing was as frank as her flashing eyes, her mouth thin and nasty.

“What happened to your ‘you wouldn’t lay a hand on me’ speech?  All hot air! You’re as bad as your hangers-on.”

“Yeah! Says you! Sure, I lust after you like the rest of my men, but I’m the one who is keeping them off your back.”

Nara’s furious expression stripped him before he continued. “Am I wrong? Maybe you fancy a quick tumble with all of them?”

Lorcan hated the thought that his motives might be misunderstood. Tamping down his anger, he struggled a patient tone. “You’re beautiful, Nara. If they think you’re mine they’ll back off.”

I’d love to know what you think of my two versions, and perhaps what you would do differently. Please leave me a comment.

 My novels are available from amazon, The Wild Rose Press and Crooked{Cat}Publishing.  

Book trailer videos for my novels:
Monogamy Twist Youtube trailer

Take Me Now Youtube trailer

The Beltane Choice Youtube trailer



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. What a difference ! of course I'm french, so I know that I will never feel all the subtleties of the English language, but what I can say is that, without a shadow of a doubt, I'm made for 'The Beltane Choice' dialogs and absolutely not for the contemporary version ... haha !

    Like I said in my review of this fabulous book I felt a genuine authenticity in the dialogs when I first read them. And here again, I feel it very deeply. To use a contemporary expression : you nailed it !
    I don't recognize myself in the contemporary form ... and put like that, one after the other, the difference is even bigger !

    You created here a perfect type of speech for the period and I'd like a lot more writers to be as meticulous as you in that matter because nothing is worse than to find modern terms or expressions in a historical novel (whatever the period) and unfortunately, this happens - in my opinion, it ruins a story and I always stop to read because what is the point to continuing when the magic is gone ! That's how I see it.

    1. Thank you for your very perceptive comments! I'm very pleased you notice the extra effort it takes to create an 'authentic', older form of speech. It's so lovely to have your continued interest!


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