Colloquial writing and the vanguards of storytelling – Bryan Romaine

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By Bryan Romaine

Colloquial writing… Most writers write colloquially at some point, when they’re writing dialogue – they forego some of the established expectations of how dialogue should be written in order to imbue the dialogue with the tone and intonation of the character. But what happens if your narrator speaks colloquially? ♥

I’d say that 10%-plus of the people who read my novel complain to me about the style – my excessive use of commas and my incomplete sentences. Complain isn’t the right word. It’s worse than that. They’re concerned for me. They’re full of love, not vitriol, and maybe they’re right to be concerned as my prose are “risky”. My prose are risky, they tell me, and some other people who dislike the style might be more open in telling me publicly. This too is true: I’d only had a link to a sneak peek of my novel up for a couple of hours when I had a voice on Twitter etching her concern across the internet.

So. What to do?

Meh. The fact is that I like it. I like the style. The style suits the storytelling. Yes I will get flack, and I’ll also get people telling me that they love it (as has also happened many times, though much more privately). The “love” voice isn’t as loud as the “concerned” voice, but it speaks to me more often.

I’m grateful for the words of concern too – these words are expressions of love. I’m grateful (though please, blog-readers, do not bombard me with any more notes – I give away a sneak peek chapter of my work, and have extracts on my webpage, enough information for you to decide whether you like this particular style or not).

Also, the people who take issue – they might be correct. I love writing screenplays, I can see how what I am writing will convert through audio and visuals into the mind of the viewer; learning to transmit a story through written syntax only, though, isn’t as straightforward. It’s something I have had to work on. Sometimes the “work” has been in the effort of understanding my copy-editors’ modifications and sometimes the work is in standing firm in the face of other external voices and saying – “Hey, the way I’m flouting the traditional rules of grammar and punctuation serves my storytelling, and so I’ll keep things as they are. I will hold the line.”

My novel, The Screen Savers, revolves around the world of indie films and indie cinemas. Indie films take risks and indie novels can too – for the same reason: the vanguards to publishing are bypassed. The vanguards have established ideas that are more likely, in theory, to lead to a successful launch while limiting the risks of a flop. But today, with an indie release, the risk is ours. Storytelling is a tightrope walk, and you might fall off; you might take a drop and gain a learning experience or you might be successful, but the walk is yours. The walk is mine.

Bryan Romaine grew up in Dagenham and now lives in Bethnal Green. He studied Economics at University but now works as a freelance filmmaker and a film technician at City Lit College. After getting some short films selected for a few film festivals, he wanted to release one of his bigger projects into the wild, and chose a novel, The Screen Savers, to be his first. He intends to release many more projects soon.

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