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Perfecting the Craft of Writing

Humorist Slim Randles is back with an update on how Dud, the writer among the folks who hang out at the Mule Barn Truck Stop, is progressing with his novel. Dud is always trying to improve his craft.

Dud Campbell, our resident would-be novelist, was busy on his day off. Anita watched him excitedly as he removed something from the box that had arrived. It was a CD. And it was something he hadn’t asked her about. Sometimes Dud just did things like that.

So here, on his day off, Dud was walking around the yard wearing ear buds and talking to himself. Anita opened the window and listened.

“Low,” Dud said.

“Hi,” said his wife.

Dud grinned. “No Honey, I said low, because low is French for water.”

“We’re going to France?!!!”

“Well, no. It’s an experiment I’m doing for the book . I think maybe what the book needs is a touch of sophistication, you see. So I’m trying to find out what language the duchess might speak.” 

The Book, seven years in the crafting … so far … is a transcontinental miasma of mayhem, murder and passion that Dud calls “Murder in the Soggy Bottoms,” but everyone else calls “The Duchess and the Truck Driver.” There was this American truck driver, you see, who was sent on special assignment to the village below the duchess’s castle … oh, you know.

“Anyway, Hon, I got this language sampler CD in the mail. It has samples of a bunch of those European languages. I’m trying to find one for the duchess that sounds classy. I’ve ruled out German so far. It sounds angry. And some of the Slavic languages don’t make sense. But French has possibilities, as well as Italian. They have duchesses in Italy and France, don’t they?” 

“Pretty sure they do, Dear,” Anita said.

“See … what I have to do is find a language that I can write easily, then I can kinda sneak in some sophistication for the duchess, like having her order a glass of low instead of saying water, that kinda thing.” 

Anita gave that some thought. “You know, Sweetheart,” she said, “a lot of those Europeans speak three or four languages. Maybe you could really make her sophisticated that way.”

“Anita Campbell,” he said, shaking his head, “you’re giving me a brain burn, you know that?”
Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, Home Country, and is the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press.

Posted by Maryann Miller - novelist, editor and sometimes actress. Her most recent book releases are Doubletake and Boxes For Beds, both mysteries that are available for Kindle and in paper.  Stalking Season is the second book in the Seasons Mystery Series, also now available as an e-book, along with Open Season, the first book in the series. To check her editing rates visit her website. When not working, Maryann likes to take her dog for a walk and work outside on her little ranch in East Texas. Slim Randles always makes her laugh.


  1. Love the way Dud Campbell is moving right along with his novel writing. Since one of the characters in the novel I'm revising speaks Spanish only, I particularly appreciate that he's looking to add that element to his story; of course, my character doesn't do it for the same reason--to sound classy--but it's a challenge to the writer to use a second language in a story without leaving in the dark all the readers who don't speak it.

    Thanks for sharing this one, Maryann. Please pass on my appreciation to Slim. :-)

  2. As casting director of your book, it is always fun to find ways to make the characters realistic. I agree with Linda that you walk a fine line with a foreign (or invented) language. Use enough to add flavor, but not so much the reader quits reading.


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