Tag Archives: writing

Can you write an accent into your stories?

Loik whatcha red, mate? Dun wanna do ya hed in wif awl vat stuff. No watta mean?

Watcha sayin’, I gotta accent? I speak like we awl do – proppa hinglish.

Here are a few videos that will attune your ear into the differences between accents.

New Zild

The New Zealand accent is an amalgam of many influences.


Australian versus New Zealand accents

Listen carefully to Amy’s distinction between long and short vowels.

British versus North American accents

Here a few words that are said quite differently between these northern hemisphere countries. You can use vowels and even hyphens to exaggerate the syllables and length of the word sound.


Writing accents

So how do you write an accent on the page?

Identify key words where accent differences show

Get creative with your written words.  In these videos (above) key words were mentioned where there were distinct differences in pronunciation.  Often the differences are around the length of the vowels. Use these options

  • A (a, e, i)
  • E (e, ee, eh)
  • I (i, e, ee, eye)
  • O (oh, oo, o-a)
  • u (oo, uh, a )

Using these letters in place of the normal spelling can alter the way the word is ‘heard’ in the reader’s brain. Only a few words will start them thinking in the accent and add credibility to your dialogue. You don’t even have to continue beyond a page or two – just keep adding in the odd word in the accent and the reader will make up the rest.

English was always a bastard language or change is inevitable

Take this history of English as you’ve possibly never seen it before:

English influences were bound to mould the way we speak.

Let’s have some comments in a favourite accent and we’ll see if we can work them out!

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

How to recognise a novel’s theme

What on earth is a novel ‘theme’?

I remember struggling with this at high school as English teacher after English teacher asked the class what was the theme of our set novel. I was among the blank faces or embarrassed book shufflers.

What is a ‘theme’?


Like many of my classmates, I thought you simply read a novel, enjoyed it or not, and moved onto the next one. Why dissect it?

Is there any value in recognising a theme?

I understood that your characters had to be real – have some depth – so that the reader could believe in them. Believable characters carried me through the action – even unbelievable action – because I, the reader, understood ‘what made them tick’. I might identify with their intentions or be horrified by them. Nevertheless, characters and motivation was what sold the story to me as a reader.


For instance, the theme of Aladdin might be that: Anything’s possible. But does knowing that make our enjoyment of the story any greater? We just identify with Aladdin and feel the power that three wishes could grant us – a bit like winning the lottery.

And the theme of Animal Farm has popularly become: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Yet George Orwell was writing a very political novel and commentary on class in western society. Most of my classmates read the book, shuddered, and moved onto a less depressing story.

Does knowing about the theme add or detract from the novel?

One easy to recognise theme is the popular ‘good triumphs over evil’.

Many stories interweave this theme through their pages and storyline. Despite having to resort to violence, the main character(s) restore order to the universe, their country, or someone else’s country. They suppress the natives, bring civilisation to savages, or make an errant woman/man realise the error of their ways.

Of course, ‘good’ in that sense definitely depends on your point-of-view, current status (or religion). Most ‘themes’ are less obvious.

Do authors recognise their story’s theme?

When I started writing More Than I could Bear I had no idea of the novel’s ‘theme’ –  it simply crept up on me. In fact, even when half way through writing the novel I was struggling to define its theme. I went through things like:

  • Friendships can be abusive – ugh!
  • We all need to be true to ourselves
  • When one child is disabled the whole family is disabled

Nothing quite fitted all the actions and motivations of the characters.

The theme emerged like a waking monster

Finally I realised that the underlying meaning of the story is: “Life is a series of compromises – we just have to work out which compromises we can live with”.

According to novelist, screenwriter, and game designer Chuck Wendig: “Every story’s trying to say something. It’s trying to beam an idea, a message, into the minds of the readers. In this way, every story is an argument. It’s the writer making a case.”

If I look at my novel through that lens I can see that in each scene, characters wrestled with their own compromises, some by trying to control others, some by allowing life to happen to them, some by searching for a new direction. Each of the main characters contributed to the climax of the novel by trying to find a compromise they could live with. It fitted with all the characters, even minor ones. It fitted with their reaction to circumstances and events. Even when the characters tried to change things around to fit their objectives, in the end they had to compromise.

In the end there was clarity

Chuck Wendig’s analysis gave me some clarity.


The theme of a story or novel has nothing to do with the reader and everything to do with the writer. It’s the author putting the stamp of their beliefs on their piece of writing.

It really could never have been any other way.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Register on www.writegear.co for Early Bird notification of when More Than I Could Bear is published.

Why Don’t You Google It?

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Everyone wants to emulate the power of Google. It’s not just a search engine – it’s a language modifier. It has given birth to a new verb (to google –to search the Internet). You might be using a different search engine to browse the ‘Net but you’ll be googling, regardless.


Googling is research at speed.  It’s also a method of linking to information that can so easily lead you down false paths. So be astute in your search. The information that you find in the first pages of Google research results are likely to be from the people who have “cracked” the Google analytic of the day and know how to push their message in front of your face.

Then, of course, there are the increasing number of paid adverts (‘sponsored’ is the euphemism).  The income has made Google founders rich. Even richer is Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (below) an American computer programmer, Internet entrepreneur, and one of five co-founders of the social networking website Facebook.

Google and Facebook give rich pickings

Like Google, Facebook is not far behind in its use as a search engine for information or connecting to people who might enjoy the same interests as you.  The information is not as easily uncovered as with Google, but each page, just like WriteGear, shares information found on the Internet, but it is already sifted for you.


How can you use Facebook for research?

If you want to expand your research on a topic, pick and keyword and search for like pages, follow them and then read and share what is most liked on their pages. Use your Facebook persona to share your own information and links as comments and you’ll start to get links back to your Facebook page and shares.

Check out the people who “Like” or Comment on your page. They’re likely to have similar interests and you’ll pick up links from them to research topics.

And if all else fails, why not hire a researcher from Fiverr.com? Look what you can get for a … fiver?


And there are many more willing people who earn extra income by giving value for money. So Google it, Facebook it or pay for it with a fiverr, anyway you look at it the Internet is the place where you can research anything.

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author