Local way of speaking

If you're writing how a character is speaking, is it acceptable to use words that are used locally (local to the character I mean), say for example if that one character substitutes the word "toilet" for "loo" or if instead of saying "are not" they say "ain't", would that be looked upon as lazy writing or would it be okay if it was the one character talking like that and the others were talking normally?

Comments

  • Absolutely! Characterisation is a lot more than just appearance. It's personality, background, way of speaking, etc.

    Where you should be careful is over-use of dialect - which can be very irritating to a reader.
  • It isn't looked on as lazy. Some very good writers (Irvine Welsh, Lewis Grassic Gibbon) have written whole books in dialect. Most writers who use dialect try to strike a balance between authentic and intelligible.
  • You want the dialogue to sound authentic to the chosen character.
  • Perfectly acceptable. I wouldn't describe your examples as 'dialect' - more 'turns of phrase'. The individual way characters speak is important - I would say essential. It can be done with an obvious or a light subtle touch, but it will be there in all good writing.
  • edited November 2016
    No ptoblrm. I have written a cháŕácter talking in Brightoñ slang to make him believable.
  • What's Brighton slang? Polari?
  • I'd consider it lazy if all the characters spoke exactly like the author, regardless of their background and situation.
  • The good thing about writing as a character would speak, is the way 'wanna be' critics attack us. For instance, 'We was just watching the sunrise,' is grammatically incorrect, but some will rush to point out the 'mistake'.

    I love it!
  • Brighton slang is also known as Brighton Cockney. So many Londoners came down to the seaside over the years, bringing their accents with them. It's very similar, though a little softer than true Cockney.
  • edited November 2016
    “That warmin’ pon’ll ‘ave to go afower we’m wed,” says Daphne. “When I moves in I’ll need that wall fer me ducks in flight.
    “Yo cor sell that warmin’ pon, Daphne,” I says, “it’s got ‘istory. It were me ma’s an’ ‘er ma’s an’ ‘er ma’s ma’s afower ‘er. Doe thee talk so saft.”
    “It‘s thee what’s saft,” ‘er says, “clussomin’ that owd dust magnet, though if yo ‘ommers the dent out, it might fetch a few quid at a car boot. Now, goo an’ find a clane ganzy, then we’ll goo an’ book the Registry Office an’ buy thee a nice suit fer the weddin’, I’m not ‘avin’ folk sayin’ I’m weddin’ a bag-o-rags.”

    An extract from something I read on Black Country Radio a couple of years back. I have not been offered a return booking
  • Perfectly clear to me, ah kid.
  • Ha ha - clear as mud to read, but I'm sure it would have been wonderful to listen to!
  • I understand it - but then I'm odd too.
  • Me, too, but I certainly wouldn't want to struggle through an entire book written like that. We read a book written an accent for book group and most of us hated it. Actually, only one person liked it.

    But it's perfectly possible to 'suggest' a dialect or accent by just using the odd word here and there.
  • I
    Me, too, but I certainly wouldn't want to struggle through an entire book written like that.
    Same here. A short section is fine. It could be fun to have a character who said very little to speak just like that, but if they're the chatty type it would be hard work.

    On radio, or anywhere else it was performed, I imagine it would be fine. We're more used to hearing than seeing accents.
  • edited November 2016
    I could read it, but didn't enjoy the process. In a story or novel there is no need to write a character's every word in dialect - just give the flavour of it. The reader will take the hint.
  • I understood it, snailmale; it's bostin'.
  • I wrote this piece in dialect, purely for my own amusement, which is the motivation for all of my stuff. It was based on real events and real people from the past. Surprisingly, the 1700 worder got a shortlisting in WM, and I subsequently cobbled up a 1000 worder which I read on Black Country Radio.

    I have no intention of making a habit of dialect pieces.
  • I tried to read Trainspotting but couldn't get more than a few pages in because it was written in Scottish dialect. Wuthering Heights has quite a lot of dialect in but I found that okay for some reason.
  • Certainly not lazy, midnightstar. Lots of good comments above, and one saying 'do it sparingly' to suggest the manner of speech, is very good. I'd like to add that once a character says something in a particular way, make sure they always do it, i.e. be consistent. Your "ain't"for "isn't" is a clear example.

    Another simple one is a character I have who always leaves the 'g' off the end of 'ing' words, and I check back to make sure he said "talkin'" and not "talking", and the same with all the other '-ing' words (of which there are plenty, of course) whenever and wherever he happens to utter them in a sentence or remark.

    There are also expressions, turns of phrase, etc., only used by particular characters because they are part of their own heritage, and I often re-read everything that character has said, to make sure the same mode of expression is there whenever they speak. It's great fun, actually! Helps me to identify with my characters. I know what they are like...

    Consistency is paramount for your writing to be convincing.
  • It's fine in speech but best not to overdo it. Give the reader a flavour rather than making it unreadable. Also if you are in first person point of view it is ok for your narrative voice, but again do not overdo it. There is a fine line between showing the character as authentic and writing in dialect and leaving the reader confused.
  • “That warmin’ pon’ll ‘ave to go afower we’m wed,” says Daphne. “When I moves in I’ll need that wall fer me ducks in flight.
    “Yo cor sell that warmin’ pon, Daphne,” I says, “it’s got ‘istory. It were me ma’s an’ ‘er ma’s an’ ‘er ma’s ma’s afower ‘er. Doe thee talk so saft.”
    “It‘s thee what’s saft,” ‘er says, “clussomin’ that owd dust magnet, though if yo ‘ommers the dent out, it might fetch a few quid at a car boot. Now, goo an’ find a clane ganzy, then we’ll goo an’ book the Registry Office an’ buy thee a nice suit fer the weddin’, I’m not ‘avin’ folk sayin’ I’m weddin’ a bag-o-rags.”

    An extract from something I read on Black Country Radio a couple of years back. I have not been offered a return booking
  • bostin, Snaerl Maerl, yo cor beat it con yer am yo a Yam Yam?
  • I ay a Yam Yam Betsie, but me owd ooman is.
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