Thursday, January 14, 2010

Up One Side...

…and down the other.

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!



  1. Funny, I thought "up one side and down the other" was unique to my grandfather who also said "hot dog!" when he was excited about something - which I only recently learned others use too. Funny how language does bizarre things over time. When I was in high school we said "like a mug" - I'm not even sure what we meant by it other than "sure thing." It sounds very silly in retrospect. And now my boys say things like "epic fail." Usually when I've just misquoted Bart Simpson or said something very 1980s. Inkpot.

  2. What I love about this story is that Dick is reading your book! I'll bet he's read it a few times and yet, like the rest of us, now that it is bound with that beautiful cover and all the "real book" stuff, he's reading it again.