Tag Archives: dialect

Writing

Clarity and voice

If you’re going to make a cup of tea (or coffee, if you prefer) do you boil the jug or the kettle?Jug or Kettle?

Photo credit: juli ryan via photopin cc

In my circle it is far and away a jug that is used. But this seems to be a distinctly New Zealand thing. And this is something that trips me up. I want my stories to sound like me, but I also want to be understood.

I’m happy to change jug to kettle. I think everyone knows what a kettle is and it’s a word you’d probably skim over without noticing. Other words are trickier. I put my groceries in the boot of the car, and when I get home I put them on the kitchen bench. I can’t call it a trunk or a counter without sounding fake. My stories are about New Zealanders in New Zealand. They need to sound like New Zealanders too, but not to the extent that any non-NZ readers would have no idea what I’m talking about and give up.

It’s something I’ll have to keep working on.

In the meantime, I’ll be careful not to rark things up, in case everything gets munted.