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Write Right, Y'all
By Gary L. Benton
October, 2006, 14:10

Base your redneck characters on somone you know, but change their names.
o, y’all want to write redneck humour? Well, ya can have a real knee slappin’ time, if ya follow a few general rules. Now, redneck is an attitude, not a geographical location in any single country. You’ll find rednecks in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and just about anyplace you’ll find people, even Asia. If you know someone who uses duct tape (rednecks will pronounce it as duck-tape) to fasten loose things and WD-40® to loosen stuck things, as they sip on a beer regardless of the hour, then you most likely know a redneck. Open a redneck's toolbox and you’ll find not only the two products I listed above, but the absolute minimum in tools. Most will have one or two screwdrivers, pliers, and that’s about it . . . oh, and a big hammer to fix things that don’t work, including electronics. Also numerous shopping carts and empty fifty-five gallon drums in their front yard are other good clues.
But, let’s look at how to write redneck humour. I have broken it down into five areas of concern, and these are the minimum for a good story.

1. I think the most important aspect of good redneck humour is to base it on someone you know (I use family). I often combine one or two people into one character and use that person in my story. Bubba, from my book Bubba’s Dawg Might Be A Redneck is based on two of my cousins, neither of which could win an argument with a fencepost. Additionally, both are rednecks, fat, with unrealistic views of the world, and believe their way is the only way. Look around, you know some rednecks, but they might not be wearing bib-overalls, flannel shirts, and ball caps, but then again, maybe they will.

2. Know the language, and this point is crucial. Since I grew up around rednecks, redneckese is easy for me to write, though the spelling can be a real chore, especially with MS Word spellchecker. I often have so many misspelled words spellchecker shuts down, overloaded. And, I can assure you, your book editor or proof reader will hate you by the time they read to page fifty-three, mine did. Know the difference in Ya all, y’all, we-un’s, you-un’s, and so on. There are many online sites with redneck dictionaries, so make a visit and learn to speak the language. An example might be, "Can I bury y’all’s lawnmo’ fer a spell?" Or, "Are ya all comin’ oveh after church on Sundee fer a mess of fried yardbird?" In the first case, I want to borrow their lawnmower for a while and in the second I want to know if all of them are coming over after church on Sunday for a big meal of fried chicken. And, there are different dialects of redneck, so be prepared for nasty emails from those that claim, “yer ignert ‘bout the language.”

3. Use everyday events in your plot, but change them to show how a redneck would react in similar situations. It could be home repair (bring out the duct tape and WD-40®), winning the lottery (off to buy a new mobile home and bass boat), car repair (bailing wire and duct tape), and so on. And, as you develop your plot, remember that rednecks do not feel they are doing silly things and often think they are much smarter than average folks, until things go wrong. I once had an uncle who did a temporary repair to his leaking gas tank by using bubble gum (it worked) and another who once installed a complete bathroom with sink, bathtub, and toilet, only to realize he needed electricity to use it. He simply placed a fifty-five gallon drum in the room and kept it filled with river water.

4. The humour should come when least expected by the reader. Have things going smoothly, then develop a humorous situation or have a comment made that is completely out of place, but hilarious. Spontaneity makes it funny, and I often have the speaker seriously believing what he has just said, which makes it even more hilarious to the reader. Redneck humour can result from "outside" visitors, a trip to town, returning something to a store, or any other situation that a redneck might foul up, and that’s about any state of affairs you can imagine.

5. Remember, real rednecks are usually very good people. Oh, I know a few ornery ones, but they’re kin folk, so I don’t write about them much. I never use the real name of an individual in my story, because it could lead to family problems or the loss of a friend. I make up names, and you can find redneck names online as well, or use Bubba. Every single redneck I know is considerate, kind to all animals (even the ones they hunt), a person of deep honour, fairly intelligent (we could argue this one for weeks), and believe it or not, religious to a point. While religion is an obsession for some, most simply believe in God, try to live within the Ten Commandments, and be as honest as they can . . . unless pulled over for speeding.

Writing redneck humour is not that hard, but it does take some consideration. Know your subject matter, have a firm grasp of the language, develop a normal situation into a funny plot, keep the humour flowing, and keep in mind what a real redneck is and what they stand for. Y’all take care and drop in sometimes fer a tall glass of sweet tea! See y’all soon, heah?

Read Gary L. Benton's excerpt from Bubba's Dawg Might Be A Redneck.

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Gary Benton grew up in the Missouri Ozark Mountains and has worked as a domestic engineer (four siblings), a pig slopper, a wild life procurement specialist (when hungry), a roofer (until he fell off the roof), a cook (no comment), and finally a member of the United States military. Email

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