I love totally immersing myself in reading a book. You know, that feeling you get when you look at your watch and realise you've been reading for over an hour and you can't even remember turning a page. You get so lost in what you're reading, the page-turning becomes automatic.
One thing for me, as a reader, that really hauls me back from this dreamworld is when a conversation just doesn't ring true. It's not real. And by "real", I mean thus:
"Hello. How are you doing today?"
As opposed to:
"Hey. How's it going?"
When I'm reading contemporary fiction, I like to relate to the conversation. I like the language used to be believable. I like to imagine the characters speaking those words (refer to earlier posts where I confirmed that I'm a visual gal) - I don't like to imagine a wooden person speaking from a script. Conversation like that just breaks the spell. So, yes - I use 'gonna' and 'kinda' and the occasional cuss word (mild) to illustrate my point. I think it lends a realism to the conversation.
That said, each character definitely has to have his or her own voice. Some of my characters swear - like I said, it's mild and scattered here and there (no f-bombs) - not naming any names (Callum). Some of them don't swear at all. Jack speaks in short sentences with one syllable words when he's trying not to give too much away. Ally's very matter-of-fact so she doesn't waffle - but Maggie sometimes does, especially when she's upset. I think it's important that each character have their own style, just as we each have ours.
To illustrate how important I think realism is in conversation, I spent over an hour today re-visiting a conversation in "Absolution" that never really read right to me. It took awhile, but I got there in the end and I'm glad I took that time because it punctuated the whole chapter.
And no, I'm not going to share it with you...yet. You'll just have to trust me on this :-)
For those who are following the great "Editing Journey" - I'm currently editing chapter nine. I hope to have finished editing chapter fifteen by this coming weekend, and then I'm in full-on writing mode. I've set myself the goal to have this finished and to the publishers by the end of July!
Wish me luck...
By the way, if any of you have any questions, ask away and I'll do my best to answer them! Goes without saying that I'm not going to give too much away about the story prior to release, but I'm getting good at handing out teasers...!