A few days ago on my blog we had a goofy phrase contest and I titled this article after the winning quote by Pat Trainum. I absolutely loved the phrase crazy as a lizard, because it illustrates the richness of individual communities’ dialogue.
In real life communities there are local phrases, jokes and centers of action like the local cafe. There is a style and rhythm to life that makes communities unique.
For example, if you are from a tourist town the locals may call themselves, ‘townies.’ They may all eat at a local cafe where the gossip mill keeps everyone up on the latest news. You may have a local crazy person, or house that people say is creepy. These are all flavors of a community.
My favorite community in a novel is Sanctuary, Oregon in Shattered Justice by Karen Ball. The town is full of local fun, right down to the population sign that includes 1/2 for the puppy everyone thinks is so tiny. We get a slice of the local cafe, where the owner makes everyone drink their milk. And the tone of mischief by local teens is blowing up outhouses.
There are several flavors to a community. Here are a few to include in your novel:
*Local Dialogue. There are always local phrases that communities say that are unique to an area.
*Relationship Ties. In small towns everyone knows everyone else and the rumor mill works overtime. In a bigger town the rich and the poor maybe divided by railroad tracks and they don’t mix.
*Visual Flavor. The best way to describe this is to compare Cracker Barrel to Ponderosa. The first has a flare of down home with rustic decor and a large hearth at the center. Ponderosa has western type decor with cattle flare. Find the visual flavor of your town and bring it to life.
*Heart Of The Community. What is the center of the community? Fishing industry, church, a common cause, etc. Show how the community will bond together by the heart.
*Local Sounds. The sound of a fog horn, sea gulls, traffic, night life, etc. This speaks of the life of the town.
*Local Legend. In Minnesota we have big foot and snipe hunting. There are sometimes local crazies or sport legends. Or even the occasional town pet.
What other flavors do you think are part of a community? Tell us a few of your local flavors.