In the United States, only the "frontier days" West has its very own genre. However, the South has a special flavor all its own, and many wonderful films and novels to illustrate it. Planning to write one of your own? Unless you're a native, you'd best be readin' up on what life is like south of the Mason-Dixon line.
The Six Elements of Southern Style
Contains excerpts from the book Having it Y'all by Ann Barrett Batson, with inserted *commentary,* and the essays below, written by South Carolina native SuGin Bowman.
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Southerners just can't imagine going through life aloof and poker-faced. We were raised to behave in a sociable, neighborly fashion to our fellow man, even if we don't particularly like them or know them from a hole in the ground. First-time visitors to the South invariably receive our wholesale friendliness with astonishment, if not with guarded suspicion, but soon are eager to adopt our amicable ways for themselves.
If you've a hankering to, you can learn some southern-style friendliness for yourself with the following guidelines. But remember our fair warning: Use your newly found skills with discretion when you venture outside the South-land. Since your contemporaries may be unused to such kindliness, they probably will wonder just what in the Sam Hill has got into you.
Being friendly to unknowns: Unless the strangers you encounter are most unsavory characters, behave as if you've known them since you were born. This means waving or smiling when passing (depending on distance) and always greeting ("How ya doing?") if within earshot. *this is the honest- to-God truth in Aiken. you always at least make eye contact and nod. this is what got me a bunch of stares in NYC*
Being friendly to knowns: If the passerby is friend, family, or even mere acquaintance, the encounter should become a reunion of sorts. All participants should avidly discuss the weather, their health, and (always) any newly-discovered bits of gossip or scandal. Always conclude the get-to-gether with a fond farewell, such as "Take care now, hear?" *I dunno about that weather and health, but for teenagers, definitely all the latest gossip, cause you know most everybody*
We Southerners are content to proceed more slowly. We talk slow, walk slow and always seem so calm, but after all, isn't life a journey, what's the use of not enjoying the ride?
Just why do we Southerners loll our words around so? Not because we are lazy. Shucks, no. Its because they taste good. Being communicative sorts, we take our time when we talk so we can prolong the pleasure of the moment.*that's what the book says* While one has to be raised down South to "speak southern" authentically, it is possible for others to do a commendable job by keeping the fundamentals of southern speech in mind:
Speak slowly. Savor the flavor of you words.
Adopt a nasal twang and add a lilt to your tempo.
Resist any inclination to enunciate precisely.
End your sentences with a lift to your voice, as if you're asking a question.
Incorporate the southern vernacular (vocab) into everyday speech.
4.Brothers and sisters all.
We Southerners not only belong to our homeland, we belong to one another. This is because the Southland is actually one massive extended family of relations and associations. *some of those small towns are ALL part of the same family, believe me* But the benefits of it are that no matter where you go, you'll most likely know somebody there. *you see absolutely EVERYONE at Wal-Mart*
And everybody is willing to help someone in need because they figure that one day they might be in the same fix. *this is true and I've experienced it first-hand. I was driving home from lifeguarding at a party at a campground, and I ran clean out of gas near another camp way out there in the woods. The camp director gave me enough gas to get home (which was quite a fair piece) and told me not to worry about paying. then, I couldn't get it started. he looked under the hood and fiddled with it for a while and got it started and made sure I got on my way*
Down South, we're justifiably famous for out gracious manners. Having good manners means being unfailingly polite, courteous, respectful, and helpful to relations, friends and strangers. If you were brought up by real Southerners you always says, "yes, ma'am" and "no, sir" to everybody older than yourself. But, if you're at work, and you address a customer or your boss, its a given. *yup, yup, yup* Also, if you happened to miss what someone just said, you say, "sir"? or "ma'am?" or "pardon?"
6.Jesus loves us.
We're called the Bible Belt, and for good reason. EVERYBODY goes to church; that's one of THE social activities. They meet on Sunday mornings, and nights; Wednesday is Youth Group; Thursday is Bible Study; and they're always planning trips and activities for the weekend. During the summer, every church has Vacation Bible School, and most people go to more than one, usually theirs and their friends. *Aiken is a famous retirement town, no joke, so, of course all the old people got plenty of time on their hands and are so close to moving on, that they ALL go to church. they comprise 99% of the congregation.*
GRITS: eaten every morning with butter, salt and pepper
VIDALIA ONIONS: onions so sweet that people eat 'em like apples
PECANS: the trees throw them up around here, used to make pecan pies
PEANUTS: usually eaten boiled, which is pronounced "bowled" as in you just went bowling
CHITLINS: pig intestines that are turned inside out, braided, boiled and them fried--yummy!
FRIED CHICKEN: but of course
ABIDE: tolerate, as in "I can't abide by the rules.
ACT UP: misbehave, as in "You boys sure act up."
CONNIPTION: fit of anger
FIRED UP: excited, motivated, as in "Were all fired up to win."
GUMPTION: guts, as in "Only the church has the gumption to change the world." (has nothing to do with Forrest)
MOSEY: amble about in no particular hurry
OWN UP: confess
RILED UP: angry or upset
SCROUNGE: to make something from nothing, as in "I'll see if I can scrounge up some donations for Dollar for Decency."
SHUCKS: exclamatory term of regret, as in "Aw, shucks! Kim Chee again?
These rules were forwarded to me from an obvious Yankee; not naming any names.
RULES IN THE SOUTH
1.Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed later how to use it.
2.If you forget a Southerner's name, refer to him (or her) as "Bubba". You have a 75% chance of being right.
3.Just because you can't drive on snow and ice does not mean we can stay home the two days of the year it snows.
4.If you do run your car into a ditch, don't panic. Four men in the cab of a four wheel drive with a 12-pack of beer and a tow chain will be along shortly. Don't try to help them. Just stay out of their way. This is what they live for.
5.Don't be surprised to find movie rentals and bait in the same store.
6.Do not buy food at the movie store.
7.If it can't be fried in bacon grease, it ain't worth cooking, let alone eating.
8.Remember: "Y'all" is singular. "All y'all" is plural. "All y'all's" is plural possessive.
9.There is nothing sillier than a Northerner imitating a southern accent, unless it is a southerner imitating a Boston accent.
10.Get used to hearing, "You ain't from around here, are you?"
11.People walk slower here.
12.Don't be worried that you don't understand anyone. They don't understand you either.
13.The first Southern expression to creep into a transplanted Northerner's vocabulary is the adjective "Big ol'", as in "big ol' truck" or "big ol' boy". Eighty-five percent begin their new Southern influenced dialect with this expression.
14.The proper pronunciation you learned in school is no longer proper.
15.Be advised: The "He needed killin'" defense is valid here.
16.If attending a funeral in the South, remember, we stay until the last shovel of dirt is thrown on and the tent is torn down.
17.If you hear a Southerner exclaim, "Hey, y'all, watch this!" stay out of his way. These are likely the last words he will ever say.
18.Most Southerners do not use turn signals, and they ignore those who do. In fact, if you see a signal blinking on a car with a southern license plate, you may rest assured that it was on when the car was purchased.
19.Northerners can be identified by the spit on the inside of their car's windshield that comes from yelling at other drivers.
20.The winter wardrobe you always brought out in September can wait until November.
21.If there is the prediction of the slightest chance of even the most minuscule accumulation of snow, your presence is required at the local grocery store. It does not matter if you need anything from the store, it is just something you're supposed to do.
22.Satellite dishes are very popular in the South. When you purchase one it is to be positioned directly in front of your trailer. This is logical bearing in mind that the dish cost considerably more than the trailer and should, therefore, be displayed.
Jack London Essay
Several of our eWorld Fiction Writers are big Jack London fans. This piece was transcribed exactly as written by him, so the punctuation and grammar may appear somewhat archaic.
ON THE WRITERS PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
by Jack London
The literary hack, the one who is satisfied to turn out pot boilers for the rest of his or her life, will save time and vexation by passing this article by. It contains no hints as to the disposing of manuscripts, the vagaries of the blue-pencil, the filing of material, nor the innate perversity of adjectives and adverbs. Petrified Pen-trotters, pass on! This is for the writerno matter how much hack-work he is turning out just nowwho cherishes ambitions and ideals, and yearns for the time when agricultural newspapers and home magazines no more may occupy the major portion of his visiting list.
How are you, dear sir, madam, or miss, to achieve distinction in the field you have chosen? Genius? Oh, but you are no genius. If you were you would not be reading these lines. Genius is irresistible; it casts aside all shackles and restraints; it cannot be held down. Genius is a rara avis, not to be found fluttering in every grove as are you and I. But then are you talented? Yes, in an embryonic sort of way. The biceps of Hercules was a puny affair when he rolled about in swaddling-clothes. So with youyour talent is undeveloped. If it had received proper nutrition and were well matured, you would not be wasting your time over this. And if you think your talent really has attained its years of discretion, stop right here. If you think it has not, then by what methods do you think it will?
By being original, you at once suggest; then add, and by constantly strengthening that originality. Very good. But the question is not merely being originalthe veriest tyro knows that muchbut now can you become original. How are you to cause the reading world to look eagerly for your work? to force the publishers to pant for it? You cannot expect to become original by following the blazed trail of another, by reflecting the radiations of some one elses originality. No one broke ground for Scott or Dickens, for Poe or Longfellow, for George Eliot or Mrs. Humphrey Ward, for Stevenson and Kipling, Anthony Hope, Stephen Crane, and many others of the lengthening list. Yet publishers and public have clamored for their ware. They conquered originality. and how? By not being silly weather-cocks, turning to every breeze that flows. They, with the countless failures, started even in the race; the world with its traditions was their common heritage. But in one thing they differed from the failures; they drew straight from the source, rejecting the material which filtered through other hands. They had no use for the conclusions and conceits of others. They must put the stamp of self upon their worka trade mark of far greater value than copyright. So, from the world and its traditionswhich is another term for knowledge and culturethey drew at first hand, certain materials, which they builded into an individual philosophy of life.
Now the phrase, a philosophy of life, will not permit of precise definition. In the first place it does not mean a philosophy on any one thing. It has no especial concern with any one of such questions as the past and future travail of the soul, the double and single standard of morals for the sexes, the economic independence of women, the possibility of acquired characteristics being inherited, spiritualism, reincarnation, temperance, etc. But it is concerned with all of them, in a way, and with all the other ruts and stumbling blocks which confront the man or woman who really lives. In short, it is an ordinary working philosophy of life.
Every permanently successful writer had possessed this philosophy. It was a view peculiarly his own. It was a yardstick by which he measured all things which came to his notice. By it he focused the characters he drew, the thoughts he uttered. Because of it his work was sane, normal, and fresh. It was something new, something the world wished to hear. It was his, and not a garbled mouthing of things the world had already heard.
But make no mistake. The possession of such a philosophy does not imply a yielding to the didactic impulse. Because one may have pronounced views on any question is no reason that he assault the public ear with a novel with a purpose, and for that matter, no reason that he should not. But it will be noticed, however, that this philosophy of the writer rarely manifests itself in a desire to sway the world to one side or the other of any problem. Some few great writers have been avowedly didactic, while some, like Robert Louis Stevenson, in a manner at once bold and delicate, have put themselves almost wholly into their work, and done so without once imparting the idea that they had something to teach.
and it must be understood that such a working philosophy enables the writer to put not only himself into his work, but to put that which is not himself but which is viewed and weighted by himself. Of none is this more true than of that triumvirate of intellectual giantsShakespeare, Goethe, Balzac. Each was himself, and so much so, that there is no point in comparison. Each had drawn from this store his own working philosophy. And by this individual standard they accomplished their work. At birth they must have been very similar to all infants; but somehow, from the world and its traditions, they acquired something which their fellows did not. And this was neither more nor less than something to say.
Now you, young writer, have you something to say, or do you merely think you have something to say? If you have, there is nothing to prevent your saying it. If you are capable of thinking thoughts which the world would like to hear, the very form of the thinking is the expression. If you think clearly, you will write clearly; of your thoughts are worthy, so will your writing be worthy. But if your expression is poor, it is because your thought is poor, if narrow, because you are narrow. If your ideas are confused and jumbled, how can you expect a lucid utterance? If your knowledge is sparse or unsystematized, how can your words be broad or logical? And without the strong central thread of a working philosophy, how can you make order out of chaos? how can your foresight and insight be clear? how can you have a quantitative and qualitative perception of the relative importance of every scrap of knowledge you possess? And without all this how can you possibly be yourself? how can you have something fresh for the jaded ear of the world?
The only way of gaining this philosophy is by seeking it, by drawing the materials which go to compose it from the knowledge and culture of the world. What do you know of the world beneath the bubbling surface? What can you know of the bubbles unless you comprehend the forces at work in the depths of the cauldron? Can an artist paint and Ecce Homo without having a conception of the Hebrew myths and history, and all the varied traits which form collectively the character of the Jew, his beliefs and ideals, his passions and his pleasures, his hopes and fears? Can a musician compose a Ride of the Valkyries and know nothing of the great Teutonic epics? So with youyou must study. You must come to read the face of life with understanding. To comprehend the characters and phases of any movement, you must know the spirit which moves to action individuals and peoples, which gives birth and momentum to great ideas, which hangs a John Brown or crucifies a Savior. You must have your hand on the inner pulse of things. And the sum of all this will be your working philosophy, by which, in turn, you will measure, weigh, and balance, and interpret to the world. It is this stamp of personality of individual view, which is known as individuality.
What do you know of history, biology, evolution, ethics, and the thousand and one branches of knowledge? But, you object, I fail to see how such things can aid me in the writing of a romance or a poem. Ah, but they will. They broaden your thought, lengthen out your vistas, drive back the bounds of the field in which you work. They give you your philosophy, which is like unto no other mans philosophy, force you to original thought.
But the task is stupendous, you protest; I have no time. Others have not been deterred by its immensity. The years of your life are at your own disposal. Certainly you cannot expect to master it all, but in the proportion you do master it, just so will your efficiency increase, just so will you command the attention of your fellows. Time! When you speak of its lack you mean lack of economy of its use. Have you really learned how to read? How many insipid short stories and novels do you read in the course of a year, endeavoring either to master the art of storywriting or of exercising your critical facility? How many magazines do you read clear through from beginning to end? Theres time for you, time you have been wasting with a fools prodigalitytime which can never come again. Learn to discriminate in the selection of your reading and learn to skim judiciously. You laugh at the doddering graybeard who reads the daily paper, advertisements and all. But is it less pathetic, the spectacle you present in trying to breast the tide of current fiction? But dont shun it. Read the best, and the best only. Dont finish a tale simply because you have commenced it. Remember that you are a writer, first, last, and always. Remember that these are the mouthings of others, and if you read them exclusively, that you may garble them; you will have nothing else to write about. Time! If you cannot find time, rest assured that the world will not find time to listen to you.
From The Editor, October 1899.
[Apparently this magazine once filled the niche now occupied primarily by Writer's Digest.]
Men vs. Women
Chances are your novel contains both male and female characters. In case you hadn't noticed, they are different. Writers need to understand this well, and there are many essays to help. These two are especially clever.
This one is of the popular "list" variety.
A letter to a man from a woman
1.) Learn to work the toilet seat. If it's up, put it down. We need it up,
you need it down. You don't hear us bitching about you leaving it down.
2.) ALL men see in only 16 colors. Peach is a fruit, not a color.
3.) If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect us to
act like soap opera guys.
4.) If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us. We refuse to
5.) Birthdays, Valentines, and Anniversaries are not quests to see if we can find the perfect present yet again!
6.) If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.
7.) Sometimes, we're not thinking about you. Live with it. Don't ask us
what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as navel lint or the shotgun formation.
8.) Sunday = Sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides.
Let it be.
9.) Shopping is not a sport, and no, we're never going to think of it that
10.) When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. Really.
11.) You have enough clothes. You have too many shoes.
12.) Crying is blackmail.
13.) Ask for what you want. Let's be clear on this one: Subtle hints don't work. Strong hints don't work. Really obvious hints don't work. Just say it!
14.) No, we don't know what day it is. We never will. Mark Anniversaries on the calendar.
15.) Peeing standing up is more difficult. We're bound to miss sometimes.
16.) Most guys own three pairs of shoes. What makes you think we'd be any good at choosing which pair, out of thirty, would look good with your dress?
17.) "Yes" and "No" are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every
18.) Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's
what we do.
19.) Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
20.) A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.
21.) Foreign films are best left to foreigners. Unless it's Bruce Lee or
some war flick where it doesn't really matter what they're saying anyway.
22.) Check your oil.
23.) It is neither in your best interest nor ours to take the quiz
24.) No, it doesn't matter which quiz.
25.) Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. All
comments become null and void after 7 days.
26.) If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
27.) Let us ogle. We're going to look anyway; it's genetic.
28.) You can either tell us to do something OR tell us how to do something, but not both.
29.) Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during
30.) If it itches, it will be scratched.
31.) Beer is as exciting for us as handbags are for you.
32.) If we ask what's wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like
nothing's wrong. We know you're lying, but it's just not worth the hassle.
Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch
tonight, but did you know we really don't mind - it's like camping!
This one is quite edgy, and all too relevant.
* Note that it contains some profanity.
THE COLLEGE THEME PAPER: HE vs. SHE
Remember the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus? Here's a prime example offered by an English professor at an American University.
"Today [the Professor explained] we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. One of you will then write the first paragraph of a short story. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back and forth.
"Remember to reread what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely NO talking and anything you wish to say must be written on the paper. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached.
"The following was actually turned in by two of my English students: Rebecca -last name deleted, and Jim - last name deleted."
(first paragraph by Rebecca)
At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.
(second paragraph by Jim)
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. "A.S. Harris to Geostation 17, he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far... " But before he could sign off, a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.
He bumped his head and died almost immediately but not before he felt one last
pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful
farmers of Skylon 4. Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel," Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspapers to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.
Little did she know, but she had less than ten seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through the congress had left Earth a defenseless target for
the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret Mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive
explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid, Laurie and 85 million other Americans. The President slammed his fist on the conference table. "We can't allow this! I'm going to veto that treaty! Let's blow 'em out of the sky!"
This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.
Yeah? Well, you're a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. "Oh shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of FUCKING TEA??? Oh no, I'm such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels."
FUCK YOU - YOU NEANDERTHAL!!!
Go drink some tea - Whore.
(teacher) A+ - I really liked this one.