Accents and Dialects in Writing

I have always wondered how to properly convey an accent or dialect in writing without sounding too over the top. I stumbled upon the Bookshelf Muse blog where it is so amazingly explained. It is so simple that I almost smacked my head reading through it. Haha.

Basically, you do not need to figure out how to write how a sentence would sound in Irish (For example) within the dialogue portions of a story. You can describe the character’s background and how they sound when they speak in a sentence or two to tip the reader off. Pretty cool!

So, writers, what are your thoughts on this? Happy writing!

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7 thoughts on “Accents and Dialects in Writing

  1. I tend to go with the phonetics. It’s fun to write. If you are going to spend a lot of time, say in Virginia, then I guess Bookshelf Muse’s explanations make more sense. I’ve never written a novel but I can imagine that makes it easier to just write. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Depending on the characters, I think a combination of description and phoneics works best. For example: if a character is describe as having a western drawl, writing with perfect endings throws the dialogue off. That said, if you describe the way a character speaks, you don;t need to go real heavy on the dialect. A few chosen words is enough to reinforce the accent.

  3. A hint, no more, is sufficient, as the reader is intelligent enough to fill in the gaps for himself. Or herself, of course. After all, anyone reading your book must, by definition, be intelligent. As a contrast, see how Dickens tackles the problem in Hard Times and other books. Rather clumsy, and sometimes almost unintelligible. Simplicity works even in spoken language. I was once an avid cinema-goer, but the fact that the characters often spoke in a strong American accent, even using strong American dialect terms didn’t bother at all, as I was listening in North-East English.

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