Dialect…how much is too much?
Due to the time period of my novel, it was recommended I look into editing for the character’s dialect. I immediately began researching all types of English dialects, and I watched videos on YouTube to learn particular phrasing.
I also started reading blogs about how to reflect dialect in writing. I’ve found several recommendations I thought helpful.
- Less is more. Readers are smart. They will understand an accent with one or two key words in place.
- Overwriting an accent makes it difficult for the reader to follow dialogue.
- Use only a few key words, because accents can create a level of disbelief. It is hard to write an accent correctly, and readers will notice mistakes.
- Avoid misspelling words. It makes reading difficult.
- Use rhythm and phrasing to reflect most dialect changes.
Dialect improves a novel. Remember, many classics use it, but such writing is rare. We don’t want readers to struggle with dialogue. So what’s the solution?
Write dialect in through your phrasing and word choice. Occasionally, add a contraction, but keep it consistent and subtle.
To help me get started, I’ve found books with similar dialects. I began reading each with the question, Why do I hear an accent? How can I replicate that in my novel?
The more I write, the more I learn. Writing is a process, and it’s worth the research to create the product.