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Difference Between Northern and Southern Girls?

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Also having grown up rural North, I was used to fields of wheat, hay, & corn, but I'd never seen tobacco or cotton.   I'd also never been to a farmers market & found sack of peanuts that I could take home & roast myself.  Visiting Georgia in peach season struck me too. (Much like citrus in CA did when I moved there.) Local fresh produce tastes sweeter. When I visited Georgia in peach season, I had so many varieties of peach dishes that I totally over ate.

Finding the beaches so deserted "off season" seemed odd to me too. I'd visit the coast in the winter too (still do) bc the beach is (to me) about the sound/scent/sight, not getting in the water. Both in the South & in SoCal, I prefer the beach in the winter, but up in Rhode Island, the beach in winter is too cold to enjoy (IMO).

I am a NOrth Carolina gal through and through... and I love Melissa's description of my home state.

:) I guess it's a little obvious that I fell in love with the state, isn't it? We talk regularly about going back, & I visit friends there.  Much like California & Oregon, there's something incredible about a state with such personality that's also in possession of both ocean & mountains. . .
#31 - January 30, 2012, 03:54 PM

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I went to Walmart today to pick up a couple of things.  As I was checking out the young woman was telling me how she bought her young son a big frog (stuffed) for Valentines Day.  He was apparently sitting in one of those grocery "carts" that have the two toddler seats in front with the steering wheels.

Her comment to me was that he had to put the frog in the seat of the "buggy" next to him.

I couldn't help but grin and ask her if she was from the south.  She was from Kentucky, more than likely one of the more rural area.

To me a buggy is what you put a baby in, not groceries or the things you buy in a big box store.  Those are called carts.

However after living in Tennessee for 20 years I learned to use the term buggy when I needed a cart and there weren't any around.  

I think the biggest difference, IMHO, is going to be the language you use.  To some it is still the War of Northern Aggression, probably not to a 17 yo, but there are older people and the Sons of the Confederacy that may use this.

If you go to your local library and look at the old issues of Discovery Girls, the feature girls from a different state in each issue.  The girls are younger, but it tells what is "hot" in their state and does give some regional background.  

 
#32 - January 30, 2012, 03:57 PM
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I don't know. Ask The Beach Boys. They seem to have a theory... ;-)
#33 - January 30, 2012, 08:58 PM
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Woods - where are you from? Are you Southern? I'd personally pick one place I knew really well, then research the other. So if you're Southern or have spent a lot of time there and feel comfortable writing about a girl from the south (and yes, I know it varies wildly, even within the south) then maybe pick a city in the north and write a character who would live there. What I'd do, if you're looking for a fish out of water story, is to create a character who would clash with the people she is going to live with in the south. If her southern family is very religious and proper - make her a Wiccan from Seattle that doesn't know people get offended if you don't use forks (not that all those 3 things *have* to go together, but in one girl they totally could). I'd look more at creating conflict, than stereotypes, then just look at geography to say "does it make sense that this person comes from Portland or Spokane, or what have you."
#34 - January 30, 2012, 09:11 PM
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I've been a north-western girl for all of my life and I can tell you flat out that I LOVE fried foods -- and so does everyone else around me.  I second everyone's suggestions to simply concentrate on your southern girls, their wants, needs, desires and habits. Each person who reads your story will bring their own conceptions of what it is like in the south to the story. Let those who have different traditions, speech, favorite foods, etc. be surprised and delighted by the way your characters live and behave.
#35 - January 31, 2012, 03:50 AM
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I must admit, this is fascinating reading.  In CO, we never think about the North or the South -- I've never heard anyone say they lived 'up north' or 'down south.'  I think we might be a tad insular -- our big expressions are things like 'Western slope,' 'in the mountains,' 'in the foothills,' or 'in the city' (which refers to Denver, of course).  I need the munching popcorn smilie while I read through all this.  :)

P.S.  Which probably punctuates the point that if you're writing about a specific setting which will impact the story, it simply needs to be a place you understand (without worrying about how others perceive it) -- and realize too that unless someone else lives there, they won't notice little mistakes (if there even are any).
#36 - January 31, 2012, 07:22 AM
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I concur on the anti-cliche vote AND on the big differences being rural v uban not N v S.  

However, I grew up rural Pennsylvania & moved then after college to NC for 7 years. I was in Carolina for all of two weeks before I took a job at a local diner & then a couple months later moved to a biker bar.  When I went home to PA, the biggest thing I noticed was a) accents/regional slang and b) manners.  All thru Carolina, the default was polite: drivers were more courteous; strangers opened doors. "Ma'am" and "thank you" and "Do you mind" were all through people's sentences.  Oh, and Coca-Cola/Co-Cola/Coke meant the same as "pop" and "soda."  No, the food was not all fried in the South, but there were def regional cuisines.  Pig pickins, awesome local diners, BBQ to die for, & OMFG good pies were all over--but I couldn't find what I considered a good pizza or Philly anywhere whereas in PA/NJ they were all over. Kudzu. I was enthralled by it when I first came South. I found that it was a slower pace for pretty much every repairman or mechanic I encountered during those 7 years (which meant that I was downright baffled when I moved to SoCal after the South). The tea, oh! The tea in the South is so much better--sweet like it should be.

Yankee imports who moved down after I'd been there a while always commented on how slow things got done, & when I went home I grumbled about how fast everyone wanted things.

There were more country stations--classic & "new country"--as well as great local music joints where true Blues can be found, which was lacking in the North.  Back home, I found new classic rock bands all over, but the Blues bars were definitely easier to find in the South.

The weather in NC is so amazing that sometimes I swore I could taste flowers from how humid the air is, and on the coast, I still catch myself licking my lips for that salty air. The beaches in the North, California, Pac NW, Ireland, & Scotland don't give me that urge. . . kinda like the South in the Fall never gives me that need-to-inhale bc of woodsmoke & fallen leaves scent.

Response to snow was a biggie.  I'd moved out of an area where 6inches of snow meant a 2hr delay, but in Carolina the hint of flurries closed things & caused grocery dashes. Folks handled hurricane warnings with mixed responses, though. Some people shrugged; others told of the time the warning led to crisis.  

So, I guess my vote is to pull the differences that are little threads.  Those are what always stand out to me and friends who move incessantly.



I was in 9th grade when my parents moved our family from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Hendersonville, North Carolina.  I was horrified.  My first day of high school (because, to make matters worse, we'd moved in the middle of the year), I didn't understand what people were saying to me.  The accents were thick -- at least to me -- and I literally couldn't understand.  I felt like people thought I was stupid because I had to think back through what they'd said before I answered.  I had never heard of sweet tea or corn-dogs before, and thought they were both disgusting (I have since become a sweet tea convert).  I was mocked for using the word, "pop."  In NC, if you ask for a Coke, it could just as easily mean Sprite or Diet Pepsi.  I thought the word "Tarheel" was funny and had no idea what it meant.  I got called a Yankee.  Other kids were nice, but they were also curious.  My mother was the second female doctor in the city and everyone was shocked that my father was a house-spouse.

This has changed since then -- in fact, my year may have been the last -- but Gun & Hunter Safety was still being taught when I arrived.  In fact, on my second day of high school in North Carolina, I was taught to shoot a gun in the gym.  With blanks (I assume).  

Now, I love being from the south and I definitely consider myself to be a North Carolinian and not a Michigander... but at 13 years old, I was terrified and angry and angst-ridden.    

The yes ma'am/sir  no ma'am/sir thing ... it's considered polite in the south ... but can be viewed as anything from strange to overly formal to rude by northerners. I've heard people from the north complain about it when they were transferred south.

I've heard people outside of the south say the south is slower and more relaxed.

The fact that racism or civil war type loyalties still exist could be a surprise to some.

Regional foods/slang/accents/customs.

A difference in religion. For example, in most of the Georgia I know a Lutheran is an exotic creature ... nobody knows quite what one is ... however in Minnesota or Wisconsin they'd be a dime a dozen. When I lived in Nebraska, there were enough Catholics that serving fish in the schools during Lent was common ... however Baptist churches, particularly those identified as Southern Baptist were hard to find. At least that was so in my area.

Someone else mentioned weather and insects ... those things could be a shock to someone not used to the south .. just as I had to adjust to a whole new climate when I moved North.

I do not know about the Jekyll Island area ... but in the parts of Georgia with which I'm familiar ... family ties, number of generations in the area, land ownership are all important ... as in "Are you one of the Petersons from Hawkinsville?"  Someone from a more urban area, who has no agricultural background could find that odd. Since you've grown up in the Deep South, you are probably familiar with people still being tied to the ol' home place ... if such still exists.

Boiled peanuts, fried green tomatoes, okra, bacon or lard cooked with beans, eating the turnip greens instead of the turnip roots, Brunswick stew ... those might all be odd or different from someone who has never experienced the Deep South.

Southerners reactions to extremely cold weather ... or a very rare snowfall would also baffle someone who has always been from the North.

And the obsession with football might be a huge surprise to someone who comes from a more urban type environment.

Also, I've found northerners to be surprised at how in the South people wave or speak to perfect strangers when out and about. That too may vary by area.

Those are some of the things I think would stick out. Hope that helps.


These were exactly the kind of answers I was looking for!  :excited:

Today I went and talked to a few friend whom are from the north. We were talking about how northern and southern people pronounce words differently. For example, she said people from Michigan pronounce water WAT-ter while in the Deep South people pronounce it wa-TER.

And yes, we call shopping carts "buggies."

And by fried food, I meant food such as fried pickles, fried squash, friend green tomatoes, fried seafood, and--yes--we do fry our Oreos sometimes.

I attempt to stay away from all this fried goodness and shop regularly at our local health market. :biggrin:

What about the landscaping and general nature of the Deep South? One of my most favorite things about Savannah is the oak trees with the Spanish moss and the marsh.
#37 - February 01, 2012, 12:54 PM
« Last Edit: February 01, 2012, 01:07 PM by Woods »

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Well, I'm a new transplant to Charleston, SC and I love it all -- the weather, the food, the people, the grand oaks and moss and marshes. I don't like the mosquitos and palmetto bugs. I think even though I grew up in India and am a NW girl like Verla, at heart I'm quite Southern. Go figure. I was home the moment I stepped into Stella Maris.

I'll say this much about stories -- it's in the specifics that you can show the universality. So make your characters unique, and don't rely on any northern stereotype. We come in all different shades.

Best of luck with your writing. Vijaya
#38 - February 01, 2012, 02:19 PM
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#39 - February 01, 2012, 06:50 PM
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Well, I'm a new transplant to Charleston, SC and I love it all -- the weather, the food, the people, the grand oaks and moss and marshes. I don't like the mosquitos and palmetto bugs. I think even though I grew up in India and am a NW girl like Verla, at heart I'm quite Southern. Go figure. I was home the moment I stepped into Stella Maris.

I'll say this much about stories -- it's in the specifics that you can show the universality. So make your characters unique, and don't rely on any northern stereotype. We come in all different shades.

Charleston is definitely a great place. :) I'm glad you feel at home.

grits



Oh, and I forgot to mention. There is one thing I don't like about the Savannah area, and it's that one thing only:

The sand gnats!
#40 - February 02, 2012, 04:51 AM

I grew up in the South but had my first fried Oreo in Connecticut!

One thing folks noted when moving from North to South that might be worthwhile. In the South (where I'm from) folks will talk to ANYONE...so (on the surface) it looks really super friendly when you first come in because everyone talks to you (briefly) and seems really friendly and nice and quick to lend a hand. But there is also a certain insular quality that although folks are friendly-ish, they don't really open up and BE friends until they're sure of you. I find it kinda opposite up here in New England. No one is rushed to talk to me when I moved here and even the librarians seemed downright surly. But folks didn't need nearly as much interaction to actually become your REAL friend...where they don't act like you're the friendly alien visiting.

Also, another thing folks moving to the area mentioned was the touching. Southerners (where I'm from/NC Mountains-- Hendersonville, actually) generally touch each other a lot...and very casually.

And the accent in the South can be very confusing depending upon where the person is from in the North. I had to act as a translator sometimes for my pastor who was from MN. He had a terrible time with the really true local accent.

Also, kids/teens don't call adults by their first names as easily as they seem to do up here. Down South, even an ADULT man doesn't lightly call a woman over 60 by her first name without invitation (something else that tended to create issues with our new pastor, he called everyone by their first name right after meeting them and offended the heck out of a lot of the older ladies.)

#41 - February 02, 2012, 05:32 AM
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... (where I'm from/NC Mountains-- Hendersonville, actually)...



I bet we know some of the same people, Jan!
#42 - February 02, 2012, 08:18 AM
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#43 - February 02, 2012, 10:49 AM
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I was born in NC and have lived here for forty years and even my experience is different than other North Carolinians in this thread saying "we do this" and "we don't do that." 

There are a zillion different factors--what part of the state you live in, sure, but also your "social class" (if I can put it that way), how much formal education your or your family has, whether or not your parents or other family members are native to the state, where you lived (city, country, somewhere in-between), what school you attended, race, religion, etc.

I guess there are common threads that run through regions but I don't like generalizations.  I AM a North Carolinian (I love my state!) and have always been annoyed when people said I'm not "typical" because I don't meet their personal stereotype.  I've heard this all my life--all around the world.  North Carolina is a lot of things.

Go 'heels.
#44 - February 02, 2012, 10:59 AM

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Hi Jaina- GO MOUNTAINEERS! ;) YOSEF rocks. :)

I hope you "some of us do this..." in my post. I am so with you and understand that we are all different. A good friend of mine is from the mountains. Deep in the mountains. Her family and those around her family had much different customs than my family (I'm from the sandhills area). Another friend of mine is closer to the coast. Their food choices, way of speaking and general lifestyle differs much from mine, too.

And some of my friends, especially those around the durham/raleigh area, don't have any type of "twang" to their voices. I do.

And my kids, who are all being raised in the city, think the "country" is a great place to visit. They want to live there and talk about it as if it is some sort of foreign country.
#45 - February 02, 2012, 11:14 AM
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I hear you.  As proof our state is awesome, I present the Soda vs. Pop map.

https://tastyresearch.files.wordpress.com/2006/10/popvssodamap.png

Just LOOK at that beautiful range of colors over NC.  We are so diverse!

Okay, I guess I have to hand it to Virginia and Nevada, too.
#46 - February 02, 2012, 11:20 AM

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When I first moved to Tennessee in 1986, I thought the funniest question that many people asked me was "whose your daddy?"  

The first time I heard the question I am sure I had a very peculiar look on my face!  :shrug:

I soon learned to answer, you wouldn't know him, he lives in Indiana.  

Ten years later this question was seldom asked by most people.

I always loved it when people asked me if I wanted a Coke and I answered "yes."  They would look at me like I was crazy (I knew the question was asking me what type of POP I wanted.)  There next question would always be, "Well what kind do you want?"  I would smile and say "A Coke, please."

I would always get the question when I traveled through the state and talked to groups "Where was I from?"  Obviously I had a midwestern (normal) accent.  I would answer Nashville.  Eventually someone would catch on and ask me where I was raised and I would tell them Indiana.  

Yes, I loved to play mind games on some people.  :tongue2
#47 - February 02, 2012, 11:26 AM
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Oh my, I forgot, "NO GRITS, NO GRAVY"

Very popular in the south and not in the north are Meat and three restaurants.  Ate at them all the time while traveling across the state.  You could choose to get the meat of the day with three vegetables or get a vegie plate.  I never did take to sweet tea. 

Lots of places used to sell and probably still do clothing with G.R.I.T.S. on them Girls Raised in The South.
#48 - February 02, 2012, 11:32 AM
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Just a note about my husbands grandmother who was a Georgia peach. She moved to Texas from Georgia as a teen and she passed away in her 90's a couple of years ago.

She had dementia, but even when she didn't know a whole lot, she'd always tell me that she was a Georgia peach. She was quite a fabulous character.
#49 - February 02, 2012, 12:59 PM

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There's a diference between deep south and southwest.  Also, my mother never made chicken fried steak.  We never had biscuits and gravy.  We did have pan fried pork chops.

I agree with you on there being a big difference between southeastern US and southwestern US. 

Biscuits and gravy are not indigenous to just the south, they eat them here in Indiana also.  I have always hated white gravy, but it was much more prevalent in Tennessee and Georgia.  My mother also used to pan fry pork chops and may still do so. 

I have also lived in New Jersey where I used to eat cream cheese and jelly sandwiches and was broken hearted when we moved back to Indiana when I was 5 to learn that you could not order these at a restaurant. 

The area I lived in Georgia was about 45 miles inland from Jekyll Island.  It was one of the places I went to save my sanity and the one place that someone broke into my car and stole my jeans jacket.  I was so mad at the time. 
#50 - February 02, 2012, 06:25 PM
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Philadelphia is not rural NJ (yes, thank you, there is such a thing), is not Bangor, is not *gasp* one of those places in the geographic north that nobody even thinks about, like Milwaukee or Missoula or Fargo or Spokane... Gullah/Geechee culture?)
Hey, I think about Milwaukee all the time...
#51 - February 02, 2012, 06:48 PM

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Glad you think about Milwaukee, Anne! :) I think about Missoula and Spokane. Alas, I don't think either the publishing industry or Hollywood do, though...at least, not very often.
#52 - February 02, 2012, 08:13 PM

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My brother just reminded me of the joys of mush ... I believe that's a midwestern thing. My family  was from central Ohio.
#53 - February 02, 2012, 08:38 PM
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I'd forgotten about mush.....swirling with butter and maple syrup......my mother recycled it later and  sliced it....fried in butter.....key word....fried. 
#54 - February 03, 2012, 02:27 AM

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WhTs interesting about foods is that very similar foods exist ib different cultures --often the cheap foods that can feed a family.  Mush is an awful lot like polenta.  I'm not a fan but I did not grow up in an area where this was served.
I love mush, don't eat it much now.  Teehee, I love the comment about being a lot like polenta.  My friend and I were ask to dinner once and they served polenta.  I had not heard of polenta before, and when we saw it and tasted it, we went "Oh this is a lot like mush."  Our one host was from Germany and found the comparison to the word mush very offensive at first until we and his wife (from Tennessee) explained what mush was and how it was made.  He was slightly appeased, but we did not use the word mush again that evening. LOL
#55 - February 03, 2012, 03:08 PM
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We call it Liver Pudding. SOOOO good when it is fried up. Oh - and put it between toast some fried eggs.

I'm hungry.
#56 - February 03, 2012, 03:47 PM
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 Scribblegirl, we started out with it fried. For breakfast. Then you put the syrup on it. Mom would make it and store it in a deep squarish plastic container and then slice it off as needed. Yes, Stephanie, much like polenta.
#57 - February 03, 2012, 04:05 PM
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Isn't mush different from liver pudding?  Mush is just boiled cornmeal.  Liver pudding has meat in it.
#58 - February 03, 2012, 04:14 PM
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I don't really know. My hubby calls it "liver mush" and I call it "liver pudding". We are from different parts of NC. :) But what we buy has meat in it. Mystery meat. :)

Here is the wikipedia def: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livermush 
#59 - February 03, 2012, 06:40 PM
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 06:42 PM by DonnaE »
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My mush ain't got no meat in it.
#60 - February 03, 2012, 06:51 PM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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