Hurray for May

Authors’ Billboard Blog Traci Hall May 6th 2023

Word Choice

As writers, we know that it’s important to get just the right word. We are painting a picture for our readers that brings them into a scene and makes them feel like they are right there with our characters. In a romance, there is an expectation of a happy-ever-after.  We want to know about those chiseled muscles and deep-blue eyes, the sculpted chest just the right height for our heroine to lay her head upon. If we are writing a mystery, that sculpted chest should preferably be noticed on a dead body 😉

I know quite a few of us that write romances as well as mysteries—because our romance readers rock and are voracious in the variety of things they will consume. I am a huge reader to this day. I love stories in all forms…except maybe poetry. I wrote angsty stuff in high school, but I haven’t touched it since, lol.

When I read, there might be a word I’m not sure of, but I get the gist in the context of the story. I will look the word up later—I enjoy stretching my brain muscles.

Word choice can also help when setting a scene. In Maine, the use of “wicked” is everywhere, even on the park signs. (Portland, Maine lighthouse, for example) So, when creating a character from that area, it would add flavor to have them use wicked in a sentence. Patrice Wilton and I are writing a mystery series in fictional Sandpiper Bay, Maine, and our ferry boat captain, Wyatt, has a heavier accent than Chief Barnes, who has only been on the island for a few years.

I’m writing a series that takes place in Scotland. My editor and I decided to use the Scottish accent in dialogue only, not the narration. My heroine, Paislee Shaw, was raised with her gran as a schoolteacher, so her accent is light. Grandpa’s is heavy.  Book four, Murder at a Scottish Wedding, came out earlier this year. If you get a chance to read it, let me know what you think of the direction we went.  

Here are just a few Scottish slang words that I’ve included in the stories as seasoning:

dreich—meaning dull and damp, usually pertaining to the weather

dafty—meaning an idiot

braw—meaning fine, or excellent

scran—refers to food

feartie—means a scaredy-cat

numpty—means a fool, or idiot

clipe—means to snitch

blether—refers to gossip

The idea is to pepper the words in and make the reader feel like they are there without jarring them from the story. You don’t want to give them a reason to shut the book.

The word choice that I use in my romances also varies from my By the Sea east coast romances, which are light and tropical compared to my west coast romances, which are a little darker, like the weather there too.

I’ll be writing another West Coast romance for this year’s Unforgettable Christmas boxed set collaboration, but until then, I highly recommend any of the books on the Author’s Billboard home page. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter for the latest going on 😊

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About Traci Hall

From cozy mysteries to seaside romance, USA Today bestselling author Traci Hall writes stories that captivate her readers. As a hybrid author with over sixty published works, Ms. Hall has a favorite tale for everyone. Mystery lovers, check out her Scottish Shire series, set in the seaside town of Nairn, or the Salem B&B Mystery series, co-written as Traci Wilton. Her latest project is an Irish Castle cozy as Ellie Brannigan. Whether it's her ever-popular By the Sea romances, an Appletree Cove sweet romance, or a fun who-done-it, Traci finds her inspiration in sunny South Florida, living right near the ocean. Traci wants to hear from you!

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