5 Do’s and Don’ts of Dialect Description in Writing

Dialects offer a unique perspective in every language. They differ in terms of words, grammar, pronunciation, and sentence structures. Different backgrounds, regions, and classes may lead to the rise of different dialects.

Dialects may be used to enhance realism in stories by various writers. For example, they may be used to show the location of a character. But it is very easy to use dialects wrongly, which is why knowing do’s and don’ts of dialects in writing is important.

Here are 5 do’s and don’ts on dialects by PapersHelm that every writer can benefit from.

Understand Dialect

As we most commonly use American and British English in our writing, it is important to understand the differences between dialects of these two languages.  Every dialect has its own grammar rule. Writers need to understand criteria which distinguish dialects from typical speech.

Allow Your Characters to Speak Differently

The realism of characters is very important in a story. But when a writer uses a similar dialect to describe every character then it brings monotony and risk of stereotyping increases. The writer should instead be focusing on creating real characters.  Every character should have a unique way of dialogue delivery that will set it apart and add more flavors to story. Dialects should be used in a way that shows differences between characters’ backgrounds.

Know That Readers are Smart

Experts at PapersHelm consider this an important tip for all writers. Readers, in general, can understand accent or dialect of a character if the writer mentions the origin of the character.  For example, you do not have to write complete dialogues or sentences in a Scottish dialect if you have told Scottish origin of your character in beginning.  Readers do not need any more incentive to read a book. So, keep it simple.

Don’t Micromanage

Some writers get so lost in writing dialects syllable by syllable to add a description to their character that they distract the reader from the actual story. As an expert in writing, PapersHelm reviews that you do not have to mention every little detail about a character in order to make readers fall in love with your characters.

As long as you have a great story to tell, no one will care about accent or dialect in writing. Instead of writing about an accent in a poor manner, stick to what you know best and leave rest for movies. Otherwise, the misleading tone may curb the interest of readers.

Don’t Go Over Top

Dialects and accents may be fun to hear but are no fun to read. Consider this sentence: “Ah dinnae ahsk fer mae dinnah tae be tan minuts laht, nae did I?” This sentence is uninterpretable by most readers. Even if they manage to guess words, it may take longer than expected.

In comparison you can easily read this sentence: “I did not ask for my dinner to be ten minutes late, or did I”? It’s the same sentence but written in a realistic manner without going overboard. Faking expertise in a dialect on paper is as bad as doing a shoddy accent in real life. Avoid it at all costs.

Dialects are a sensitive issue for people. It is better to avoid using a dialect in writing to avoid disappointing your readers. Believe that your readers will understand your characters’ origin with just a few prompts. Trust that your work will be read and loved whether you use a dialect or not.



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