Friday, July 8, 2016

Touring the Regions

I'm lagging a little behind on my writing, but that's not important right now. What is important is that I have run into a peculiar issue. Accents.

I don't often have characters with accents. My very first novel featured Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla, and my second involved a guy from Northern Ireland. And now there's this chap from Lancashire (that’s in north west England, by the way).

The trouble I have found is trying to convey the accent in text, short of spelling things out phonetically. And that just seems… I don't know… hokey? So the dialogue itself doesn't read any different from the American dialogue. So the casual reader isn't even going to pick up on that, especially if they skip over the bit that mentions the accent in the first place. Sure, I can try to use appropriate British terminology, but that would just seem out of place if you're not reading it with the right voice in your head.

When writing for Nikola Tesla, I tended to cut out most of the contractions (which also boosts word count), and throw in a smattering of Serbian words and phrases. Also, it was Tesla, so the accent was kind of expected.

So this is a bit of a challenge that I've run into. On the one hand, it's not critical to the story, but on the other hand, it matters to me. I supposed that's true of most elements in my story. I can picture all my settings and characters perfectly, but I for some reason can't describe them at all. But does it matter? Does it matter that you don't imagine my world and its inhabitants the same way I do? It probably doesn't, but I wish you could see it the way I do.

That's really all I have for today, since I haven't written much lately (I'm a slacker, I know). What do you think about all this? What would help you imagine a character with an accent?

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