Friday, April 1, 2011

Accents in your dialogue. The A to Z Challenge has begun!

The A to Z Challenge begins today! You can still join, of course, and hop around to some of the over 600 (600!) blogs that took the challenge. A post a day in April, excluding Sundays. That's one for each letter of the alphabet. *wipes sweat from forehead*

So, for me, A is for Accents in dialogue.

I want so much to add accents in my dialogue. A Russian zee instead of boring, old S. Shortened word forms or completely fake words to emphasize the sultry drawl of my Southern Belle (I'm from the very southern part of Ohio, and yes, we drop consonants like Ace Ventura dropped that poor raccoon).

But as much as I'd like to write that way, I find more and more that it annoys the jeepers out of me to read dialogue with heavy accents written in. My brain stumbles a bit too much, and pleasure reading should never feel like work. So, what's a girl to do?

How do you approach accents in your dialogue?

Quick note: I've been on a mission this week to finish my college-to-high school conversion of my WIP, and I'm so enormously sorry I haven't been a good blog follower. I promise I'll catch up over the weekend! Thanks to everyone who stopped by during the Harry Potter blogfest! Don't forget Crits for Water.

-Marie

12 comments:

Gina said...

That's a good thing to ponder. V.C. Andrews wrote out her character's southern accents (before her incompetent ghost writer took over), and it made the dialogue so much more real. At least it felt that way to me, rather than saying, "so and so spoke with a southern accent!"

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I avoided accents. My series is set in the South, but the drawl would be annoying to read, so they just spoke normally.

Zan Marie said...

My WIP is set in the South, too, but my people use standard lanuage with just a few sayings thrown in for spice. I think it's far more effective that way.

Heather M. Gardner said...

You can tell who wrote their blogs ahead of time by the number of participants they mention!

I read a story once where one character described the way the other character spoke to point out the accent or certain words. Something about, he let his r's roll off his tongue like molasses out of jar. Or his words were lazy like swinging on a porch swing in July. (Forgive my awful descriptions!)

Good luck with your work and the challenge!

Retired Knitter said...

As a reader, I find reading accents too hard. It slows down the reading for me, so I avoid books that do that a lot. But if it is a small amount to support the validity of a minor character or to differentiate a change in a major character I can deal with it for a short time.

Dafeenah said...

I am also from the south but below the Mason Dixie line. Sometimes I write memoir and I use it on certain words but not very much. I don't particularly like a lot of accent when I am reading so I don't tend to use it that much. Not sure what the balance is. Am still working on it. Happy A-Z!

Stopping by from the Challenge!
Dafeenah

Nate Wilson said...

I'd keep dialect to a minimum in dialogue, since it's more apt to make readers stumble. Leave the accents for when your work is turned into a movie.

That being said, you can elicit a similar effect just by (lightly) peppering your dialogue with words and phrases appropriate to the region.

Best of luck finding all those dropped consonants...

Angela Felsted said...

I wish I knew how. Is there some secret trick to handling accents in dialogue?

Missy said...

Cool post, I've attempted to read some novels with heavy accents, but they're hard to get through! I live in Ohio also, but so far for only about 10 months!

Cheree said...

I don't do accents. I try to avoid them and I really don't like it when books overuse them because it can become tedious to translate what they're saying.

Carrie said...

Like Zan Marie above I prefer a few sayings thrown in to tell us where the characters are from!

Erin Hartshorn said...

And there are now over 1,200 bloggers signed up for the challenge. I'm not going to check them all out, but I'm trying to sample some reasonable amount.

Accents and dialect are tricky. Sometimes, the best way to convey is by specific word choice (for example, "to redd up" a room meaning to straighten it up) or word order. I much prefer dialogue that's easy to read.

Erin's blog