Tips on writing Southern style for Leonard McCoy.
Being a native southerner and living in Georgia - the home of the great Dr Leonard McCoy and DeForest Kelley - I thought it would be fun to offer some tips for writing about the South. I love reading Bones fanfics, but I see a lot of misconceptions about my home state and city, Atlanta. THIS IS NOT MEANT AS CRITICISM OF ANYONE’S WRITING!!! Hopefully people will see it in the fun spirit with which it’s intended! I’ve also tagged a few people who have written Bones stories that I’ve really enjoyed. I hope that’s ok!! I love everything you creative writers do!!
1. Y’all is plural. And yes, we say y’all all the time, but only to refer to groups of more than one person. It’s never you guys or even you when referring to a group - ALWAYS y’all. I can’t talk without using that word!
2. Georgia is the peach state, but we’re not drowning in peaches. The state doesn’t smell like peaches, taste like peaches, or drip peach juice.
3. What we are drowning in is Coke. AKA Dixie champagne, the elixir of life, the secret formula. Nobody calls it Coca-cola, it’s just Coke. Coke is headquartered in Atlanta and employees are not allowed to have any other soft drink on pain of being fired if they’re caught! (True!!) I’ve known people who wouldn’t attend a church event because someone was serving Pepsi! Also, all soft drinks are called Coke. If someone says, “Would you like a Coke?” It means “Would you like any carbonated beverage of the Coke family?” It’s never called pop or soda or anything else (especially Pepsi.)
4. Atlanta is not a small town. It’s a city of about 450 million people. If your story setting is Atlanta, then remember that there are no rolling fields or country roads here. But there is Lenox Mall, Phipps Plaza, lots of nice restaurants, and lots of streets named Peachtree. Peachtree Street, Peachtree Way, Peachtree Avenue, and Peachtree Battle Ave. are all within about a mile of my house.
5. We don’t call each other “Darlin’”. Sometimes we call each other “hon’” or “sweetie” or I might call a boy “bud” or “buddy” but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone called “Darlin’
6. I would suggest not writing in Southern dialect. It’s hard to read and frequently sounds more country than Southern. And yes, there is a difference. Country is more redneck, Southern is more elegant.
7. We frequently say “Bless your heart”, but it’s sort of a way of saying “Isn’t she/he sweet but stupid…” For example, “She ordered a Pepsi, bless her heart.”
8. Outside of metro Atlanta is rural. Really rural. Georgia is a beautiful state that has both beaches and mountains and we love to take advantage of both! But not everyone lives on a farm. I would love to read a story where Bones takes the reader to Amelia Island or St Simon’s Island - it would just be so real! Also, we don’t ever call it the shore. It’s always the beach.
9. It does get hot here. REALLY hot! And humid. But it also gets cold here - but cold to us is anything below about 45 degrees. And the reason we’re so cold is because nobody knows what to do with it - we might own one winter jacket, so when it goes down to 20 degrees everyone just freezes. But it’s not hot here year-round.
10. Manners are super-important. Children are taught to say “Yes Ma’am” and “Yes Sir” from birth. I still say yes ma’am and sir to people older than me. Gentlemen pretty much all still open doors for ladies, pull out their chairs, and stand when a lady approaches your dinner table in a restaurant (then the lady always says “Go ahead and sit!! Don’t stand on my account!”) McCoy would totally be into doing this. We ladies enjoy it. Nobody is insulted. But ladies also open doors for gentlemen. We just try to be nice to each other. I apologize if anyone ever met someone met someone rude from Georgia! They must have been having a bad day, bless their heart. (Maybe someone offered them a Pepsi…)
11. It’s true that tea is always iced. And sweet. And we drink it all the time. Unless we’re drinking Coke.
12. To me, McCoy does not sound like he has any accent, - I just don’t hear it. But Kirk sounds a little funny sometimes!
OK - I’m going to stop here. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask!! I’m hoping to read a lot more Bones stories and I hope this helps!
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