Suppose I need a comment to describe something awe-inspiring. In today’s writings, I might use one or more of the following words: stupendous, bombastic, fabulous, tremendous.
My characters used more elementary words in my novels about homesteading in the 19th century era. For example – Martha’s description – I think I will never forget the beauty I saw in the sky that morning when the sun rose, making the clouds in the east dance in golden highlights.
I often turned to the web to ensure a word or phrase would work for the vernacular I used. For example, I wanted to use hooligans. However, a quick inquiry told me it wasn’t used in English until around 1900. I used the word ruffians instead.
The Ellsworth sheriff cussed with a mild form of profanity. “Now, what in tarnation am I gonna do with you?” I’m sure even that tough-guy sheriff would blush at some of the profane words we use today.
When one of Hannah’s chickens met her unfortunate demise from the hooves of a cow, Hannah yelled, “Mathew, you are gonna learn how to pluck a chicken.” Yet, Nellie used the same word to describe courage and fortitude. She said, “We’ll all need some pluck to pull through this winter.”
I love playing with words—my favorite in Never Waste Dreams was when Mathew realized he no longer needed to fear an obnoxious brood hen. He said, “You were right. She had me bamboozled.”
I let my characters speak in their simple dialect. Maybe that’s why I had so much fun finding the right words for my early pioneers.