- Books for writers
- FAQ: I’m a new writer: which book should I read first?
- FREE Nail Your Novel Instant Fix: 100 Tips For Fascinating Characters
- My writing process: the picture tour
- Nail Your Novel: A Companion Workbook
- Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and how you can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence
- Reviews of Nail Your Novel
- Who’s tweeting about Nail Your Novel …
- Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel
- Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart: Nail Your Novel
- Email me
Posts Tagged character dialects
This week I’m running a series of the sharpest questions from my Guardian self-editing masterclass. In previous posts I’ve discussed three/four-act structure, endings and characters who are either bland or too disturbing to write. When I posted on Tuesday I forgot there would also be an Undercover Soundtrack to disturb the sequence, so here, slightly later than trailered, is Masterclass Snapshots part 4.
Regional accents to make a character sound distinct
One writer had his characters encounter people with strong local dialects. He asked how he should render their speech.
We discussed why he wanted to do this. He explained that it was to include a flavour of the setting and emphasise that the main characters were in unfamiliar territory. The odd speech was one good way to show this – with caution. Strange spellings or contractions will trip up the reader if overused. We discussed other ways of achieving this effect – perhaps by showing local customs and attitudes, lifestyles and so on. All of this will create a sense of a different culture.
This led to another good discussion – how do you make characters look distinct through their dialogue? Favourite phrases are useful, and that might be a way to show foreignness too. Habitual gestures are also good.
Humour styles are a very interesting way to differentiate people. (Curse words too, but some writers might not explore this very thoroughly.) I often see manuscripts where writers have given all their characters the same sense of humour, which makes them look like clones. In reality, you could take any group of people and they’ll all have their individual ways of expressing humour. Some enjoy wordplay. Some will try to grab attention and be the joker of the group. Some will be understated and enjoy the odd ironic quip. These are all ways to use dialogue to create a three-dimensional, distinct character.
(There’s more about this in Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated, including a discussion of phonetic Glaswegian.)
Thanks for the pic Lee Carson
Tomorrow: editing is more than tweaking the language
Have you had difficulty making your characters sound distinct? How have you tackled this?
accents, authors, bland characters, boring characters, character dialects, character voice, characters, characters and cursing, characters and cussing, characters and humour, dialogue, distinct characters, editing, fascinating characters, fiction, fiction characters, Guardian masterclass, Guardian newspapers, having ideas, how to edit your novel, how to write a book, how to write a novel, I want to edit my book, I want to edit my novel, interesting questions, main characters, My Memories of a Future Life, novels, phonetic dialects, polishing, publishing, revising, revision, Roz Morris, self-editing, self-editing for fiction writers, write a good book, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart
- ‘A space in which language can play and find itself’ – talking about slow discovery writing with poet Rishi Dastidar @BetaRish June 20, 2022
- What do we most want as writers? June 12, 2022
- ‘I just keep making things’ – Melanie Faith @writer_faith on patience, fulfilment and the long game in art May 31, 2022
- The push-pull in a person’s soul – how to keep readers desperately hooked. Interview with Mary Kole @Kid_Lit May 25, 2022
- Do androids dream of electric horses? Creating the future – interview about Lifeform Three at @AuthorsElectric @AuthorKatherine May 22, 2022
- Two opportunities for shortform writers, a treat for music lovers and a little interview May 10, 2022
- Writers, can you feel it? How to use gut feeling to guide your work May 9, 2022