“Run that by me one more time?”
No matter where you’re from these questions mean the same thing. Stated formally, the query would read, “Will you please repeat what you said?” But when writing fiction, the use of formal phrases can be jarring to the reader.
Literary colloquialisms are conversational, non-formal phrases and words that give characters authenticity, transform stilted dialogue, and improve the flow of writing.
Colloquialisms can also show instead of tell. Suppose an author wrote: Jack put on his hockey jacket. “Nice weather, eh?” That would paint a more vivid picture for the reader than simply being told Jack was from Ontario.
Sticking closer to home, a character of mine might say, “Tea ain’t tea unless it’s iced and sweet.” You would probably assume that my character is from the southern part of the United States.
What’s your favorite literary colloquialism? When do you think colloquialisms should not be used? Have you ever been distracted by the overuse of colloquialisms?
Gimme your thoughts.