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Natural-Sounding Dialogue and Fantasy Accents



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Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:59 am
Merlin34 says...



EDIT: Oops, I copy-pasted the wrong article. THIS is it.

To make your characters believable, it is important to make sure all dialogue is natural for the character. Example:

"I was certain it was merely a facade."
(Translation: I was sure it was just an act)

Would that phrase seem natural coming out of the mouth of a 16 year-old girl with a GPA of 3.1? No.
A construction worker? No.
A 50 year-old alchoholic? No.
A college professor? Maybe...

Even if that is something the college professor would say, you also have to consider who he is talking to. If he were talking to his 11 year-old grandson, he wouldn't say "facade". However, if he were talking to a colleague, then "I was certain it was merely a facade" would be an acceptable thing to have the character say.

Unless your character is a college professor or another extremely smart person, they will be using "just" instead of "merely", "know" instead of "cognize", and "sick" instead of "debilitated". Be aware of this.

There is another section that I would like to briefly cover. Fantasy accents.

"Aye, I wus headin' ova t' me sister's house f'r..."

No. Bad writer. Put it down.

"Yes, I was heading over to my sister's house for..."

Yes. Good writer. Biscuit for you.

Sorry for treating you guys like dogs for a second there.

"Aye" should only be used in a Scottish Highland accent (make sure to properly research the rest) or if the character is voting (even then, it could be yay or nay instead of aye or nay). Also, adding in random apostrophes does not constitute an accent.

While characters in a fantasy world should certainly not be spouting modern slang ("Yo, whazzup ma homie?" asked Eragon), try to avoid the stereotypical "accent" that so many stories have, with random letters omitted, "thee", "thy", and "thou", etc. For Pete's sake, make up your own accent! It's your world. Maybe the people hiss on the S's, maybe they pronounce H's that we would think are silent (although you couldn't exactly write that in), or maybe they have a habit of cutting off on
-ing words.
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Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:03 am
Hippie says...



I wrote a series of short comedy stories with a Scottish character who's accent was so strong that it was a challenge just to figure out what he was saying. Of course, that wouldn't be acceptable in any other genre.

I have a bit of trouble with realistic dialogue. A tip my mentor gave me was to listen attentively to radio and television featuring people from different backgrounds and to notice the differences in speech patterns for different people.
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