Masters tales

Dialect and writing

I was caught the other day copying dialect from the television. I know it sounds odd but I can’t write dialect, I’ve tried and it just sounds bad. My characters go from sounding almost normal to sounding totally cardboard and just unexciting. The result is that all my characters speak the same, but different.

I was looking at two characters having a conversation and one spoke primly and the other in long flowing sentences. The two styles where there immediately and they defined the characters speaking. I want to set myself a challenge of writing just a dialogue story. So very little description, all dialogue. Or maybe a short play…

The simple fact I can’t write dialogue means I’ve got to be clever, to define the characters through what and how they say it. The cadence, the beat of the speech and the spacing of it. Now all I’ve got to do is find the story.

I have done a small experiment. I went into my study and randomly picked out ten books. Only two had any dialect. The others didn’t. I asked someone the other day why they thought I couldn’t write in dialect and they looked at me and smiled.

“Because you don’t.”

There really is no arguing with that. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Dialect and writing

  1. I won’t argue with that either. But I will say, there’s no substitute for really listening to the telling particulars that stick out in different people’s speech patterns. It’s not every idiosyncrasy but the telling ones that we should strive to capture as writers and that takes loads and loads of time patiently listening to the speech patterns of other interesting people.

    1. I do try. I find I use characters on the TV a lot, as people get funny if you take notes around them while they are speaking. Although I get away with it in cafes and the university.

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