1. Zieki
    Offline

    Zieki Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    USA

    Dialgoue: How realistic?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Zieki, Jul 19, 2010.

    Make your dialogue sound natural. I have heard, and followed, this advice for a long time now, but I have recently struggled with the question: how real? Where I get stuck up is in writing sentences such as:

    "What's gonna happen?" versus "What's going to happen?"; or

    "Lookin' good, man" versus "Looking good, man"

    Now, obviously these aren't huge differences and they're not something that would make a reader put down the book for good (in my opinion), but is there a too realistic? I understand that most of it is stylistic preference, but, like the use of profanities in (for example) a college setting, is there a limit to realistic dialogue?
     
  2. Addison
    Offline

    Addison Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Occasionally Illinois; at other times, Norway.
    It really depends on the context and the nature of the story you're writing. As long as the reader isn't unable to identify with the dialogue, I think you can pretty much get away with what you think fits.
     
  3. Fantasy of You
    Offline

    Fantasy of You Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    England
    I agree with this. As long as you're always true to the character, it doesn't really matter how strict you are with vernacular.
     
  4. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    Agreed with the other two posters. A lot of writers use words like "gonna" to show dialect and/or accents. So as long as it fits the character, there is nothing wrong with it.
     
  5. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Agreed. I mean, think about Hagrid's dialogue in Harry Potter...practically everything he says is spelled wrong, but it really drives home his accent. :)
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I would add to this, avoid "nonstandard" phonetic dialect. If the reader has to sound out the words, it's like hitting a patch of ankle-deep thick mud midway through a foot race. It completely throws off the pace, and the reader will still be hampered for a while afterward.

    So words like gonna and lookin' will not be a problem, but stay away from saying, "What a fahn day it is foah a pickanick." Maybe you can get away with it occasionally, but more likely you will simply annoy the reader, especially if you try to maintain it for more than a line or two.
     
  7. Layla
    Offline

    Layla New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Word. I think the best example (or at least, probably one of the most famous examples) of the dialect writing is probably Mark Twain's use of it in Huckleberry Finn. I absolutely adored Mark Twain and that book for the realistic touch you get from muddling through Huck's and other's accents. It does get a bit difficult to read sometimes, but I think typically if it fits the characters, serves a purpose (for example, giving a clearer picture of a character or characters) and isn't just seemingly there for the heck of it, most readers are willing to embrace it, or willing to sound out words they can't decipher as written.
     
  8. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    That's true, unless it's a satire or something.
     
  9. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,061
    Likes Received:
    5,266
    Location:
    California, US
    I enjoyed that book as well.

    I think, however, if you sent something written with that much dialect to an editor today, it would be viewed as archaic and more likely have a negative effect than a positive.

    If you want to establish a character's dialect in the 'ear' of the reader, I think you're better off sprinkling a few choice words here and there. It won't take much for the reader to end up hearing that character's dialog as having a certain accent or dialect.
     
  10. BlueWolf
    Offline

    BlueWolf Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    Messages:
    168
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Germany
    Not only did I make my characters different, but I tried as hard as I could to make them 'sound' different - to the point that you know who said what, even if I do not say who.

    Going and gonna are fine, so long as they are used apropriately - speech is very important, and what helps breathe life into the characters.
     
  11. MissBelle
    Offline

    MissBelle Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2010
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    East coast,USA
    yah, depends on the context. Like if your writing a script fir a tv show, more natural. For example. If your having a hard time making you dialogue sound natural, just listen to peoples conversations.
     
  12. nickbedford
    Offline

    nickbedford Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    I agree. The difference there is that the slang, such as "gonna" and "lookin'", has more to do with the spelling of the word and hence it's meaning, rather that actually trying to have the reader hear the accent (which cannot be represented well on paper). There is little or no difference in the spelling of a word when it comes to an accent.

    I think the difference between slang and formal pronunciation is a bit more important than some might believe (at least to me). For example, when someone says "lookin'", it gives the reader the impression they're being "smooth" or "cool", whereas saying "looking good" is more formal and may invoke different feelings about the character's persona or interaction with someone or some people.

    You'd expect royalty to speak formally and expect everyday folk to use slang more often.
     
  13. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    There are two main components to dialect in dialogue. The first, as mentioned, is writing in the accent of the speaker. The other is word choices; regional slang, unusual ordering of words, word omissions, etc.

    For instance, where most people might say, "It looks like there's some bad weather coming," a local on the coast of Maine might say, "Weather coming in," or, "There's a blow coming."
     

Share This Page