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Writing Dialects and Accents

accents and dialects

Today’s topic comes from QSFer Kelly Jensen:

I listen to a lot of audio books, and in one series in particular, the narrator does all the accents, which vary from regional to international. It really makes the book, which is why I pay extra to listen to this series, and others, on audio. As a reader, accents and dialects can be more difficult to decipher, however.

Sometimes it’s simply a matter of word choice and speech pattern, and this works. That character’s voice acquires a recognisable cadence that stays with you throughout the book and/or series. As a writer, that’s a great way to define and separate your characters, too. Pick a word or phrase that is theirs and use those them where appropriate.

Where I often have difficulty, as a reader, is with strong and particular dialects, especially when they’re shown using truncated and contracted words. These are hard to read. The eye doesn’t grab these combinations of letters as easily, and the rhythm of the book falters. Reader falls out of the story. That’s what often happens to me, anyway. ;)

How about you? Dialects and accents, love them or hate them? What are some good examples of where they really work?

I’ve done very little of this – mainly because I’m afraid I will get it wrong. I did use some Britishisms in one story set in the UK, but had to ask my step-dad, Tony, to see if they worked. :)

So how about you? Have you used accents or dialects in your works if you are a writer? Do you like them, as a reader? Some examples?

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