On Page 91 of Rag and Bone, author James R. Benn has the narrator/protagonist, U.S. Army Lt. Billy Boyle, escorted into the presence of a gangster in wartime London.
"Two other guys, middle-management thugs by the look of them, sat at the table playing cards," Billy tells us.
Seventy-five pages later, Billy's sidekick tells him: "Them two knuckleheads are probably still changing that tire, and no one else followed us."
Middle management? Knuckleheads? Did people talk that way in 1944? Are the terms historically accurate?
Not only are they accurate, but they are accurate with impressive precision. One search traces the first use of knucklehead to 1944, another finds middle management used first sometime between 1945 and 1950. More to the point, they lend Billy and his aide, Big Mike, a distinctive American voice. This is especially important in this tale of a young American abroad.
More on Billy Boyle later. In the meantime, how does dialogue contribute to a sense of place in fiction? Give examples of dialogue and vocabulary well suited to their fictional place and time — or not so well suited.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010