Author Topic: Quirks in character speech  (Read 4846 times)

Offline reddsh

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Quirks in character speech
« on: December 03, 2008, 08:39:48 PM »
Hey all ;)

In my current novel, I have a secondary character whom I imagine to have a slight (American) accent, maybe that you'd hear around Virginia or North Carolina.  Not enough that he'd say "y'all", but a lot of "ya" instead of "you" and leaving the "g" off of "-ing" words (leavin', goin', etc.)

How much should I use this?  I don't want to overdo it to the point where it's hard to understand, but I'd like to give some character to his speech to differentiate him a bit from the others.

Any advice would be awesome.
The author gets to choose when the story is finally dead. ~Castledoor

Offline markrobert

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2008, 09:56:41 PM »

 You should use it as much as each scene in your chapters requires him.For example,if he is the chief character in a particular chapter then do not alienate his accent,use it to your advantage to clearly express his individualism.If he is secondary make sure,nonetheless,he is noticable.But not overachieving;balance him perfectly in all scenes.

Offline reddsh

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2008, 11:17:48 PM »
Thanks, that helps  :)
The author gets to choose when the story is finally dead. ~Castledoor

Offline ma100

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2008, 09:22:19 AM »
Hi Reddsh

I can so see where you are coming from. I am doing a piece from Victorian London and it has worried me that I have gone over board with the cockney accent. I have tried only to pick out one word for each character so that it doesn't grate on the reader. Touch wood nobody has remarked on it being too much.

Lin

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2008, 02:00:55 PM »
My characters have Cornish accents, but I have tried to show and not tell, by bringing in a couple of really broad accented characters who don't have too much say in the plot and are secondary to the story.  I let them speak in their local accent but not for long, it gives the story a flavour of living in this area.  My main characters have normal accents and they keep the story going throughout mentioning the culture of Cornwall by showing, but not having a broad accent all the way through the story.   I think you have to be aware that it won't just be British people who read your story or mainly Americans.  I would certainly try to tone it down and make the words reasonably comprehensible so that we, the reader of the novel, don't have to spend too much time working out the words.  Ive read a few books recently where I had to work out what the words meant.  I think you have to compromise.

Lin x
« Last Edit: December 10, 2008, 02:34:11 AM by Orangutansaver »

Offline reddsh

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2008, 04:41:42 PM »
Thanks everyone!

I've been sprinkling it in here and there.  He's not one of my central characters, but he's probably the third most important character in the book. 

I have the feeling that his speech is pretty comprehensible.

A sample:
“Well, Cole’s movin’ out tomorrow.  I feel like throwin’ a party,” he said.
“I bet.”
“My place is nice, ya know.  There’s space for ya now if you still need a roommate.”

Just one or two small replacements, but I feel like it's enough to give him character.  :)

The author gets to choose when the story is finally dead. ~Castledoor

good_stuff

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2008, 11:50:17 PM »
If you want to limit the amount of those American accent words you'll have to re-arrange the speech and possibly set yourself a limit of how many you really want in your book.

Lin

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2008, 02:35:41 AM »
My daughter has been reading "At Swim, Two Boys" and its got a lot of Irish brogue in it - she has given up reading it!!  I actually enjoyed it.

Lin x

GondorianPrincess

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2009, 04:37:15 PM »
You will find that not everyone talks like that, just like you lot have your Londoner's accent, your Cockney and Cornwalish accent...we have our different accents as well. I live in Colorado and I don't think that I have an accent, but people from California do think that I just think 'dogs nuts' to that one. *lol*

erm....I would only pick and chose which words to keep the 'g' off of the 'ing'. Too many times and its too much. The American accent will be more profound if you keep the others accents in line as well. If you have an American playing with a Cockney, a Cornwalish, and a Londoner, then the American accent will be more noticable.

at least, I think so. Gee, do I make any sense, ducky?

Offline reddsh

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2009, 06:37:08 PM »
Yes, I'm being careful with which words I'm taking the G off of, to hopefully not make it too annoying.

FYI - I'm American, but from New Jersey (with my own horrendous accent)
The author gets to choose when the story is finally dead. ~Castledoor

Offline Vienna

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2009, 02:51:26 AM »


what you have to be is accurate! and consistent!
Just a well-read punk peasant

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Lin

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2009, 03:43:02 AM »
I'm surprised when Americans say they don't have an accent - to me that's amusing.  To my ears you have the strongest  accent of all time!! I don't mean that to sound rude or anything, so read on and you will see I mean this in a lighthearted way.

For the Americans reading this - all over the UK every person has an accent and you can almost go to the nearest town and guess which street they live on!!  (well not quite, but this can nearly happen!)

I listen to American accents and I find it hard to listen to where you guys hail from.  There are some accents - like New York, and Calfornia I can pick out, also Canadians are obvious with their words than sound like "abaut" for about.  To English ears its often hard to work out. where you come from, you are Americans, and that's it as far as accents are concerned.   Do you have the same trouble with us Brits - do we all sound the same to you as well?   Im only just beginning to work out the Dutch accents from the local towns, now that I speak the language.  Up my way it's very gutteral, they miss the letter N off each word.  In the south they speak more clearly.

Accents are an indication of where one lives and this often induces conversation between strangers.  Getting back to the subject in hand, I prefer to show and not tell with regard to accents in a novel, just bringing in the accent here and there as required for each character.  My main characters I might show and not tell  with their accents, whereas my secondary characters might have an accent because their appearance throughout the book is short and I also want my reader to remember them, one of them could be key witness for the story. In that case he might be remembered from way back in the book.  It all depends on what you want your reader to understand and using an accent to define a character is not a bad thing to do provided you don't overdo it.  I get annoyed when I have to decipher what someone is saying in a book, I think doing this needs skill!

Lin x
« Last Edit: January 14, 2009, 04:41:44 AM by Orangutansaver »

Offline Vienna

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2009, 03:48:06 AM »


yeah here in austria the accents are regionalised too and after 20 years here and speaking German fluently I can tell a Carinthian from a Tiroler etc...not to mention the Viennese..................and of course we Brits have the most wonderful accents. I am a tyke btw Lin lass!
Just a well-read punk peasant

Going to church makes you a christian as much as standing in a garage makes you a car!

Lin

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2009, 04:39:23 AM »
Ah yes those Carinthians that say Fraytog for Freitag and Ich mokte dos!!!! (Ich machte das).  I actually speak German mit ein Karnter dialect!!  (Karnten is Austrian for Carinthia!)

I been around the world quite a bit so its surprising what you pick up en route!!

I have a penfriend in Klagenfurt!!  Ee ba gum!!

Lin x x x

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Quirks in character speech
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2009, 04:40:36 AM »
I'm surprised when Americans say they don't have an accent

Lin, I don't think anyone hears their own accent, but yes, we all have them.

Even in one state, at least one the size of Texas, there are a number of different accents to be heard.

Having relatives in Witchta Falls, I grew up hearing their accent. I have surprised complete stranger by asking them if there grew up there. Of course, I've been right every time.

After I had been away from my home town for a number of years, it surprised me to realize the people that had lived there for years had an accent very different from what I had grown use to in Central Texas.

I've worked with the public for a number of years and as a result hear accents from not only all over the States, but from around the world. I love it - each unique in it's own way. Some I have found to be more pleasing to the ear than others, but I'm sure they could say the same about ours.



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