A to Z Challenge – I (WR)

It’s April again and that means it’s time for the A to Z challenge and this year, my theme for the A to Z Challenge is characters and narrators.

II is for International Flavor for characters (also known as accents)

Ahh accents for international flavor (although there are accents within particular countries as well) can be important.

….do you write in accents for your characters?

I do not.

….do you like to read accents in your chapters?

I do not.

I suppose it depends on style and genre…and readers.  Personally, i’ve seen very few examples of constant written accents that don’t annoy me, especially if the author hits you over head with it and you have to read out the dialogue to get some sense of what the character is actually saying.

Does this mean it will stop me from reading or finishing the book?  If it’s the main character, probably.  But if not, I’ll probably get through it.

What do you think?  Do written accents annoy you? Or do you enjoy them?

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32 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge – I (WR)”

  1. Accents can be good things, but not if they’re overwhelmingly done. I like when they’re sprinkled in enough at the beginning so that you’re “hearing” the character in the way you’re supposed to, and then just sporadic one-off reminders through the rest of the book. 🙂

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    1. That could be useful, especially if they are a main character. I suppose it depends on how it’s done…and that the author makes sure it’s not overdone. I think it also depends on the genre – accents in children’s books (even over the top ones) tend to be a little more acceptable.

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      1. I read a lot of historical romance and sometimes accents put you in a place and time (like, medieval Scotland, my favorite), but it’s easy to overdo the burr and the lassies and the dropped consonants and cross the fine line into annoyanceville. 🙂

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  2. I agree with leaving the dialog in the language of the author and only leave nuances of accent or dialect as subtle reminders of international flavor. Hemingway wrote some of his novels in dialect which made it difficult to get through and understand. Thankfully, he didn’t treat all of his stories this way or I would have collected far less of his work.

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    1. I think subtle is the key word there. And it depends how prevalent the character is and how artful the author is in expressing it. Being hit over the head repeatedly and having to speak the characters dialogue out loud to understand it, means the author went too far. (At least in my opinion)

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  3. I found the Yorkshire servant’s accent in Wuthering Heights was almost impenetrable and I live just down the road from that county. as long as everybody isn’t talking in different accents I can cope though.

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  4. I read one book I could barely read because every other word was broken with a ‘ in one characters dialect. It was cute at first but it got really old really fast. And when I mentioned this in my review of the book, the author had the nerve to “correct” my opinion. Um, no, that’s not how it’s done lol. So I won’t be reading more of that series 🙂 Which was a shame, because I normally love Steampunk. But if it’s done well, or if you simply use the “isms” of the culture (like Apple Jack in MLP or if you had a British character and use modern British phrases properly) then yeah it can be done well. But if you have a British character,don’t make them sound like from the 19th century lol.

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    1. That’s a good point too – keeping the authenticity of your characters speech, both in era and region. I once read a short story where the person sounded Transylvanian…not the country the were going for. :p

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      1. Yikes! I bet that was confusing 🙂 I have a British character myself and occasionally I will throw in some British slang. But I don’t overdose it in worry of sounding like an American trying to be British lol. I watch enough BBC though to get the gist 🙂

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  5. Hooray for I. Over 1/3 of the way there! I agree that it has to be subtle, and not overdone. Some of the worst examples ever? The Harry Potter books. It was like nails on a chalkboard sometimes. It can work, but it just can’t be campy. Unless the books supposed to be campy, then it’s just hilarious.

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    1. Sigh. Yes. There was a good bit of that in Harry Potter. Haggis in the first book was perhaps the worst. But I did tell myself that it was predominately written for children/Young adult, so I couldn’t get too mad. But yes, it’s one of the very few things I didn’t enjoy about that series

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  6. Written accents are so hard to slog through–it slows down the story to try to decipher thick ones. And if they’re not done right, they seem cheesy or insulting. But everyone doesn’t speak the same and dialogue that doesn’t reflect that won’t work either. I think one or two well chosen words will do it and the reader can handle the rest with his or her imagination.

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  7. I remember reading a book that is generally considered a classic back in middle school/high school, and how horrible it was to have to deal with all the accents that were written as such. As someone who loves reading, it was incredibly distracting. I still couldn’t tell you what the book was actually about (though I did power through reading it)!

    On the other hand, telling me about an accent then writing without it works – I can imagine the accent without it being overpowering or only imagine it when it is part of the story. The only example I can come up with off the top of my head is the accent of the Capital citizens in the Hunger Games trilogy (as well as the accents that I assume exist when the book is written by someone from outside the United States).

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  8. I add some accents but don’t overdue it unless I really want that particular character to stand out as a real pain. And I’ll kill them off shortly.

    Stephen Tremp
    an A-Z Cohost
    @StephenTremp on Twitter

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  9. I find accents to be overwhelming most of the time, and often very gimmicky. There are some historical pieces that I think it belongs in (though I’m not sure if I would have felt the same if they weren’t “historic”.. thinking pieces like Huck Finn).

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  10. Hmm, did you fall behind or miss J? 😉

    I don’t really like heavily dialectical accents in the stories I read either, and words with accent letters in them, (like café, ) are a pet peeve of mine because they’re so hard to type!

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    1. Sigh, yes, I’ve fallen slightly behind, but I’m working on J presently.

      Words with accent letters can be complicated, but I usually just google the short hand keys for inserting them into text (I’m a bit of a weirdo and love find short hand keys for things). Thanks for stopping by and good luck with the A to Z!

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    1. I agree, a little goes a long way and there are exceptions to every rule though I also think it depends on how the author writes out the accent – does it make it difficult to determine what the character is saying? Is it cartoonish?

      So I guess the exceptions would (for me) depend on the story, author’s style, and also genre (I think accents work better in kids books, some mystery, western, and graphic novels).

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