Author Topic: Tips for writing an accent  (Read 19 times)

Offline LtBroccoli

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Tips for writing an accent
« on: September 14, 2021, 07:40:50 PM »
Does anyone have any tips or hints for writing an accent?  Especially to keep it from sounding cartoony or offensive?

I'm working on a new series where several of the main characters are Aussies.  My problem is that I'm a tone-deaf yankee, and I'm trying to write the accents.  The different characters in the story will have different versions of the accent that come out at different times, but I want to illustrate that through the dialog and not the description.  Show, don't tell.  Also, not every Aussie is Paul Hogan from Crocodile Dundee.  Australia is a big place with subtle differences in speech, and I'd like to try to get that right.

What I've leaned towards so far with one character is spelling out what the speech sounds like.  He drops the g on ing words, does that oi sound for I so like becomes loike, and uses Aye to start a sentence or get attention in place of hey.  He's also vulgar as all hell. 

Also, what about slang terms and metaphors?  I don't want to overuse them, but they make sense sometimes.  And when people get pissed or feel vulnerable, they regress to how they learned the language, including common phrases and the like.

What do you guys think?
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Offline EnabranTain

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Re: Tips for writing an accent
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2021, 08:13:45 PM »
That's a really good question that I have no answer for, but now I'm curious about it too!
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Offline Grumpy

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Re: Tips for writing an accent
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2021, 11:07:42 AM »
Don't overdo it, but drop some letters when you need to, and be consistent. Also, do tell, at least the first time. I try to drop the "accent card" every so often just to remind people. Again, don't overdo it. It's nearly impossible to detect an accent through showing as a reader. Even if they detect that it is an accent, they could read it as British, Aussie, German, Portuguese, or just someone talking funny. Yes, colloquialisms and slang help, but you also have to realize that most readers won't be that familiar, so you can't rely on them too much. Absolutely throw them in, but still do the above.

E.g. this isn't great:
"Hey dude! Want to hop in the car with us? We're heading to town for some food?" the man asked Axel.

This is better:
"Oi, cunt! Wanna get in with this hoon? We're shooting to town for some brekky at maccas, yeah?" Ben asked Axel in his stereotypical Australian accent.

Personality, accent, slang, showing and telling. I apologize to all the Australians who are cringing right now. It's only illustrative of my point - I did not do my research xD