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Accents & Dialects Within Character Speech Options · View
Posted: Sunday, August 05, 2012 12:16:09 PM

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Location: Wiggleton, United Kingdom
I have recently written a story where my characters speak like me and my friends. I set the scene in my Home city, and when I write, I submerge myself into the world as best I can. The original intention with this story was to record the audio straight after, to go hand in hand with it. Sadly (in my own head), that has not been managed yet.

I wanted to make the story as realistic as possible, and for me, that includes how my characters speak. I wanted my story to be "home". But in writing, it comes across very differently. According to a person (who I think is fabulous), the written accents within my story made them lose the writing. In essence, it ruined it. Another friend has also just admitted they had to go back and read some of the sentences again.

I do wonder if the audio might have changed their mind, but when all is said and done, a written story is a written story. It become something very different when we change the style of delivery. This is the second story I have written in accented form (if that's the technical words for it?), but there was more narration in the other, so it wasn't as pronounced.

Personally, I love to read dialogue in other accents. A good writer gets me reading in the characters' accents as I go along, so I actually hear the Southern drawl in "Roots" in my head, etc.

I always think, though, to be serious, a writer cannot improve if they don't know anything is wrong.

So I would like to know, do you find accents, dialects and colloquialisms within stories a hindrance? Does it help if you actually know the accent to be able to read "in" it? Or do you not like it at all?

And should I go back and re-edit my story to read like "normal" writing?
(But if I do that, I'm putting a disclaimer to say people aren't allowed to read the main characters with posh Southern accents in their head, because it's Wrong.) I'd hate to have to "butcher" something I hold dear (silly as an accent might seem to you!), but if it will make me a better writer, I will do it.

Thank you for any helpful replies you can give me.

Ut incepit fidelis, sic permanet.

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Posted: Sunday, August 05, 2012 12:40:30 PM

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I think writing in accents and colloquialisms into characters lines are very important. Do not give up on that. If someone does not understand that then it is part of their own growing process to learn that as a reader. Most well read individuals understand such and relish it in their reading.

You are invited to read Passionate Danger, Part II, a story collaboration by Kim and ArtMan.

Posted: Sunday, August 05, 2012 1:59:47 PM

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Joined: 12/1/2006
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Just for the record i was the one who wrote to Daisy and gave her my thoughts about the use of a strong Yorkshire accent in her story. It took me a while to decide if this was the right thing to do but as she is a friend i wanted her to know what i honestly thought.

For me it spoilt the beautiful words and the well set scenario of the story, just because i thought it was intended as 'tongue in cheek' humour, which in my opinion was not in keeping with the rest of the story. In her reply she stated that it was not meant to be humorous and i accept that i made a mistake in reading it that way.

Daisy - i stated in the message that the story 'lost me' it in no way 'ruined it' for me.

I do not think that a story should be altered just because someone comments about an element in it they do not like - if we did that the mods would have to read each piece at least twice.

As for me accents especially strong dialects do not work but hey i'm not as well read as some people.

E xx
Posted: Sunday, August 05, 2012 2:14:36 PM

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Joined: 12/1/2006
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I liked it how you wrote it. I don't have a "gift" for languages that aren't somewhere in the English field. I've been to several countries around the world and am always charmed by the different accents and languages. My own grandparents spoke Gaelic as freely as I speak English but, I can't speak a word of it. This is the key
I set the scene in my Home city, and when I write, I submerge myself into the world as best I can.
So do I. I've missed planes, appointments and got very little sleep because of a book or story. Submerging myself in it is the power the written word has over some of us and it's wonderful for us to be able to do it. Even more so if an author can MAKE us do that by putting words down for us to see. Please don't stop doing it. It makes the story more real. Not everything is set or staged in once certain place. We're a Hodgepodge of people and it's nice to be able to see into another place and time.
Posted: Sunday, August 05, 2012 2:41:25 PM

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Sorry, sisters, I didn't meant to put words in your mouth. Embarassed Hugs

I think that as a reader, no matter how well-read a person is, there can be likes and dislikes of styles. For instance, there is a particular style that is now very widely used, and I absolutely abhor it. I find it lazy and uneducated. However, more and more writers are using it, and people are loving it. I bought a book once, and that style drove me to distraction so much that I gave up after three pages and took it straight to a charity shop. And I've read a fair few books in my time.

There was a very popular author on here not too long ago, who used that same style, and on a recommendation, I began to read. I could see the quality of it, but I gave up. It's no fun when you have to adjust the way they wrote something to make it grammatically correct in your own persnicketty head. The author did send me a corrected version, which I have on file, and will read when the right moment for me comes.

As both writer and author, we all feel differently about other people's work and styles. Sometimes I read something that I wouldn't have written in the same way, for a few reasons, but as a reader, I can see how it works and what they were intending to do.

But that's why comments likes sisters' are so important to me. I often forget that people might actually read my stuff when it gets posted on here, so I tend to just write whatever comes out without really taking anything else into account. I think that's why comments are so invaluable, because as writers, generally, whilst a piece of work is our own, and we should be able to be proud of it, I also think if we risk alienating people because of our style, it is important to understand how and why, and then decide if we want to change anything.

I will leave Part I as it is, but I will definitely bear it in mind in Part II.

I do welcome honest, constructive criticism (after I have my self-indulgent cry), because it is to be hoped that I will become a better writer because of it, or at least understand and be aware why some are for or against a certain style I may choose to use.

sunny flower

Ut incepit fidelis, sic permanet.

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Posted: Sunday, August 05, 2012 3:18:57 PM

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At one time it was conventional wisdom, writing-wise, to use accents very cautiously in the beginning then taper off later in the work. Then along came Frank McCort's, "Angela's Ashes" with its character's thick Irish brogues from cover-to-cover.

That said, I'd still suggest trying to limit irregular spellings to the minimum needed to advance the story in favor of usage. As we southern (US) writers have learned, a little "y'all" goes a long way. Check out some of the dialogue in Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind" (upper class Civil War era southern) and William Faulkner's, "As I Lay Dying" (poor white post Civil War)..

Best of luck.


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Posted: Sunday, August 05, 2012 4:02:35 PM

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Ha, I'm coming out as the friend who had to re-read some of the lines... I never found that it detracted from the story in any way.

What I did have to do, was accustom myself to the 'accent', you know, take a few moments/sentences to get a 'feel' for it. I'm just the same when I read writing by Iain Banks or Irvine Welsh, who both write at times in thick dialects.

It just takes a little time to accustom oneself to a new accent, in just the same way as it would if you met someone new with an unfamiliar accent.

In such situations (IRL), I find that I have to speak a little more slowly and clearly to make sure that I am understood and that is fine and expected.

When reading, yes, I think that it does take a little more brain power to read something like that, in just the same way as one has to think about it when one reads complicated writing or pieces which use words which may be complex or unfamiliar.

What I did NOT mean, Daisy, was that it detracted from your story in any way, shape or form. It quite simply did not. It made me think and have to use my brain a little, that is all...

There is nothing wrong with that... Dinnae be bluddy changin' it oan ma accoont, doll... geezo
Posted: Sunday, August 05, 2012 4:44:53 PM

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I'm going to reveal a deep, dark, well-hidden truth about myself here. When I watch just about anything on BBC America, I have to turn on the subtitles in order to follow the story completely. It's the spoken accents and dialects that I have a problem with. When there is any difficulty at all with written accents, I just slow down when reading through them. It helps if I don't have to slow down where it will mess with the flow of the story, but it usually won't.

I prefer not to read obscure accents in narrative, but obscure is a regional thing. Narrative also suffers if there is too much slang or colloquial expressions, but those can do so much to set the tone of the story. The point of a story is to tell the story in a manner that it will be understood. If you're going to confine your audience to people who live in Brooklyn or East Los Angeles, have at it with all the rich fullness of those areas, but when your audience is the full breadth of the English speaking regions on the planet, a little restraint in the narrative might go a long way.

I just recently completed a series story where I threw in a lot of Italian, some Spanish and some French in the dialog. I always tried to provide a translation of some sort within the next few sentences, with the exception of where I was either repeating what was previously translated or using very common examples of those languages that I think have permeated English speaking regions through common movies and TV. I still had one comment about somebody having to google to understand the story. I probably relied on the recognizability of the words too much.

I liked the accents in your story, Daisy. Don't pull them completely, but if the dialog is essential to the story, be careful not to lose the message in favor of authenticity.

My latest story is too hot to publish. My most recent story before that is Even Stranger In Lust
Posted: Monday, August 06, 2012 12:13:19 AM

Rank: Clever Gem

Joined: 7/17/2011
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Location: Exactly where I should be!, Canada
When I first moved to the UK, I remember the only thing I said for a good 2 months when people spoke to me was "WHAT?"
In saying that, it just takes some getting used to when you are exposed to accents and dialects, retraining if the ear.
These days, a good 15 years later, I hear more of an accent when I go back to Canada then I do here, I don't really hear the accent in London any more.

I think the accents in your stories are brilliant Daisy, it makes them realistic and gives them character.
I had no issues reading the accents, even if I read some of them twice.
In fact I think its fun, as I am forced to say them aloud at times, which I find very amusing ;) .

Posted: Monday, August 06, 2012 5:50:38 PM

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Joined: 7/27/2012
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From my own experiences of submitting stories for publication on Lush.
I've found that the people who proof read the stories for accpetance or refusal will generally tell you to alter your story if dialoge has been set out in an accented way. IE, written out exactly how the words would have been spoken.
If you are putting a story up for acceptance it's probably best to explain the accent that the person would be speaking with then write the dialogue in "Queens" it's then up to the readers imagination how the person would be speaking.
Posted: Monday, August 06, 2012 8:26:04 PM

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I see accent/dialects written out in dialogue quotes all the time by best selling authors so why shouldn't they be used here? They certainly add to the scene and the character's personality.

My first story for Lush is posted, The Goodbye Fuck.
Posted: Monday, August 06, 2012 8:45:26 PM

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i find that touches of accents work best for me, when i'm writing, just enough to give readers a taste for what the speaker sounds like - if it's laid on too thick, i find it can become comical, but if there's just enough to give it flavor, it seems to work - that's just me.

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