Clearly amused, my husband wandered into my office yesterday, his copy of my novel, Soliloquy, in hand. He read this excerpt to me:
“I thought you did,” Daniel replied. He shifted into a lower gear to steer around the sharp curve in the road. “I visited the professor’s grave the other night, right after you and Mom were there, and Gerard praised your efforts up one side and down the other. He’s been wracking his brain, trying to figure out how to help you without endangering everyone else.”I looked at Dick, waiting for the punch line. “Up one side and down the other!” he exclaimed. “That’s my line!” We both laughed. Dick does say that frequently, to describe an abundance or excess, and since I’ve never heard anyone else use it we agreed that he deserved credit for coining that particular phrase.
Writers are advised to “write what you know,” and that brief conversation with Dick made me reflect on our patterns of speech and use of favorite words or phrases as we write. I certainly try to give each character a unique voice, yet rhythms and phrases may be so ingrained that I now think I might need to study not only my own voice, but expend even more effort on the subtleties of my character’s voices. In other words, an effort that is up one side and down the other!