I love writing accents. Giving a character a voice that really fits him is so satisfying — and fun.
And there are many different accents. There are the national accents, the regional dialects, the local twangs, the tradesmen’s lingo. There are variances through education and age. Real people even “tweak their speak” on a whim, favoring whatever suits their fancy, depending on the situation.
An accent greatly inspirits a character. We’ve all read books whose characters’ voices were unique. So how to make that happen? Listening and repeating in my head works well enough for me. The problem comes in putting it on paper in such a way that English grammar doesn’t alter the pronunciation.
I’ve written several characters possessing voices so distinct that they almost speak their parts before I can write them. They leave me trailing behind them, transcribing as fast as I’m able. It’s sublime when that happens.
Dialects and accents are an important aspect of character that fiction writers should speficially develop and focus on. I know it’s an area I don’t give enough thought to. In a way it becomes so very important to surround yourself with all kinds of people because the best way to learn and use these things naturally is to immerse ourselves in it.
Of course, one of my pet peeves is when a writer goes overboard with accent. It’s frustrating having to translate the character. So, writers beware, I guess. Go wild with accents and dialect but make sure you write it clear enough that readers aren’t left floundering in foreign language.