This piece was previously posted on an old blog of mine, so to my friends who have read it, feel free to give it a pass; you won’t hurt my feelings. Also, it was written before my short-lived foray into the world of self-publishing, which I found out wasn’t my cup of tea.
For those of you following Sins of the Fathers who are scratching your head and thinking: “Wait a minute, she’s dropping quite a few Gs here”, bear in mind that story was written years ago before I learned less is usually better–and a few other things.
Something has been bothering me for a few months, and maybe if I write about it here I can get it out of my mind.
Concerning my Kindle short, Saving Grace, I received a three-star review because my Southern dialect was, according to the reviewer, an “incomplete translation” due to the fact I didn’t drop my ending Gs, and I had the audacity to use words no true Southerner would, such as “skeert”.
I’ll address skeert (meaning scared) first…
Any of y’all who have followed me for any length of time know I’m as about as Southern as Southern can get. I know and use words and phrases gleaned from my youth that many people in this country, and in others as well, have never heard. Case in point: “yont”. (And no, I didn’t misspell a word, nor leave out an apostrophe.) I’m betting not many reading this post know the word–though maybe have heard it. I’ll use it in a sentence:
“Yont to go ‘coon hunting tonight?” Bubba asked Leroy.
Now you understand–yont is short for “do you want to”, a phrase I probably use every single day. And we all know pret’ near; I still use that particular contraction as well.
There are words such as skeert for scared, feared for afraid, learned for taught–I could go on and on–that many of my elders yet use, and if you travel far enough into the Southern backwoods, you’ll still hear used liberally today.
Maybe my reviewer came from a big city down here, like Atlanta or Dallas, not, I’m assuming, from the rural South. Who the heck knows?
Now back to dropping Gs…
Yes, we Southerners habitually drop our ending Gs. But if I were to show that in my writing every single time, imagine how just one sentence in a story might look. Wait, we won’t imagine; I’ll take you there…
“I was fixin’ to go huntin’ when Mama started yellin’ at me to round up my sisters, who were runnin’ around the yard, chasin’ the dog and laughin’ to beat the band.”
Now, if I were reading a book filled with Southern characters and the writer continuously dropped Gs and replaced them with apostrophes, soon I’d be seeing nothing but a whole herd of apostrophes stampeding across the page. This applied technique would pull me out of the story, something no writer wants happening to his/her audience.
I drop Gs sparingly; instead, I try to convey with word choice and turn of phrase how a particular character talks and thinks. Maybe I’m wrong, but I assume my readers are intelligent enough to know Southerners drop their Gs, and while reading, do this without conscious thought.
Years ago, I read the classic, Tobacco Road, written in 1932 by Erskine Caldwell. (Don’t confuse the book with the 1941 film version by John Ford who altered the storyline to play mainly for laughs.) Tobacco Road is about Georgia sharecroppers. Caldwell was a native of Georgia and knew his subject matter well. Nowhere in his book did he drop a single G, but by word choice, it was evident his characters were Southern, rural, and uneducated.
Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit, but I choose to follow his lead.