If you need a new character or dialect, an old book might be a treasure chest of inspiration…
While browsing through a used book store, I chanced upon an ancient copy of “The Code Of The Mountains” by Charles Neville Buck (pub. 1915).
Scanning through the pages, the first thing that caught my eye was that the character dialog was all written in dialect! For example, instead of “How far might it be to Winchester?” they say “How fur mout hit be ter Winchester?“.
This was an amazing way to learn a new dialect, or create a brand new character.
You can read the entire book here:
“The Code Of The Mountains” on Project Gutenberg
(warning: antiquated thinking may be potential offensive to sensitive individuals)
Below, you’ll find some select quotes from the first 20-or-so pages…
We open with Newt Spooner, a boy from Troublesome Creek in the Cumberland Ridges of Virginia. Or maybe Kentucky. Around 1897. He’s just gotten out of prison:
“I’m obleeged ter ye,” he answered in a dead voice of mock humility, though his tongue ached to burst into profane denunciation, “but I hain’t axed nobody ter do nothin’. I didn’t ‘low ter be beholden ter nobody.”
“I ‘lowed I mout go back an’ see my kinfolks fer a spell.”
“I ‘lowed,” lied Spooner cautiously, “thet atter thet I’d go West.”
He remembered his boyhood surprise at the shocked face of the circuit rider when his father had laconically announced: “Stranger, thet thar boy’s done drunk licker sence he was a baby. We weaned him on hit. Hit’s good licker, ’cause we made hit ourselves — an’ we hain’t paid no damn’ Gov’ment tax on hit, neither.”
“I ‘lowed ye’d let me stay all night — I’m a travelin’,” replied the boy from Troublesome.
“I didn’t ‘low hit war a-goin’ ter make ye mad,” he mumbled as he went out again to the road.
“How fur mout hit be ter Winchester?” he demanded.
And for the ladies, we have quotes from Minerva – a young girl intent on getting some book learning:
“I reckon ye don’t hardly know how much I’ve got to learn,” she said. “I reckon ye don’t realize how plumb ign’rant I am.”
“Maybe ye don’t know how I hate it all — how I want to get away from ign’rance an’ dirt an’ wickedness. I’ve been wonderin’ if I didn’t err in comin’ here. It’s just makin’ me hate that cabin over yon — I mean over there — on Troublesome. Sometimes I think it can’t hardly do nothin’—do anything — but make me dissatisfied.”
“Over there,” she went on, as though talking to herself, “they only hates me for it. They says I’m ttuck on myself an’ that what’s been good enough for my folks for all time ain’t good enough for me no more — I mean any more.”
“Air ye the feller frum down below what aims ter give folks larnin’?” she had demanded, as her large eyes held his with a tense directness, untinged by any humor.
“I’ve done been ter the blab-school. I kin read an’ write an’ figger.”
“Ye’ve got ter take me,” she cried out. “Ye’ve jest simply got ter take me. I’ve done been prayin’ ter God Almighty ter give me a chanst. I’ve done heerd that ye war a preacher of ther Gospel, an’ I reckon God hain’t a-goin’ ter suffer ye ter turn me away.”
“Ther Scripters says thet God’s servant won’t turn away sich as comes to him seeking light — an’ I’ve done come.“
If you’re not into book larnin’, then maybe you can see Newt and Minerva in the movie that was made from this book:
“A Woman’s Power (1916)” on IMDB
(let me know if you can actually find a copy…)
… and there are tons of other free old books out there with more treasure to be found. Happy hunting everyone!
All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com
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