What do your characters sound like?
Do they have their own characteristics? Or do they end up like the teacher in Peanuts?
So, you may have deduced I'm British. What gave it away? ;-)
I therefore write in 'British' English. I spell words like colour and aluminium.
There is a whole debate on this, but I'm British, and so are most of my characters, so the hat fits.
However, this doesn't tackle what my characters sound like.
To the rest of the world, the English accent is the old BBC one, I think. Haw haw haw, what what.
But we have many different accents in our beautiful country. And I will admit, even I don't understand them all (*blushes*).
The good folks of Glasgow have a very strong Scottish accent. Have you watched Trainspotting? Hmm...Ewan McGregor...
(*coughs*) Sorry, where was I? Oh, Trainspotting. Right. So you've maybe watched the film.
But have you read the book?
OMG what?? It's actually written in "Scottish".
Now, this hasn't harmed that, has it?
Good old Thomas Hardy, author of novels such as Tess of the d'Urbervilles, wrote obviously in his ye olde English style but also used some local dialects from the countryside. Again, very popular. If a little hard to follow sometimes.
Mark Twain is an example of an author who used the Southern American vernacular.
We're a diverse world, so don't be afraid to show it.
Now, a word of caution. This can very rapidly become overdone. Although the examples above are very popular books, a lot of readers are put off by them. So, we want to use it sparingly. After all, we don't want to end up sounding like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, do we? Cor blimey!
Cerys in my own Darkness & Light Duology is Welsh.
This is a hugely sweeping generalisation. Of course, there's many parts of Wales, and many dialects and accents. But I didn't want to write in Welsh, and wanted to keep it broad so people didn't locate the elinefae ;-)
Some of her dialogue has a note, such as...
“Hmm…you are new.”
Shakira noted the sing-song lilt of the woman’s Welsh accent. But instead of the usual cheeriness that went along with that association, there was a gruffness too.
In other places, I added some key Welsh words e.g. cwtch
He lifted his arm and wrapped her up in a proper cwtch; the most comforting type of hug you can find anywhere.
I even snuck in a 'popty ping' - which is a bit of a standing joke. Supposedly an alternative word for microwave.
I digress. It's not like I'm saying I'm wonderful, follow me. I'm merely giving you an example. There's many ways to approach it. I happen to think less is more. The aim is to add flavour, but don't labour the point.
Adding accents/dialects is a fun way of differentiating 'character voice'.
Have a play! Writing should be fun.
btw, a distinction between terms:
Dialect - is when vocabulary/grammar changes e.g. Hampshire, England uses "nipper" as a term for child. "Alright, nipper?" is "Are you OK little one?"
Accent - is the pronunciation of words e.g. the different way Americans pronounces vase as opposed to English personages
So there we have it, another wonderful blog post which will enlighten you.
Or just some TL brain vomit ;-)
As always, feel free to comment below with your opinions and/or suggestions for future blog posts.
Always in love & light,