Re: Discussing accents and dialects in character dialogue, advice??

#1
I am by no means an expert writer. And while I have been writing for as long as I can remember I have gotten to the point in my life where I want to start putting my work out there. ((Not entirely relevant)) 

What I mean is that while I am not brand new to writing and do consider myself to be rather good when I feel like boasting I am still learning quite a lot, and probably always will. 

As of right now I am in search of, not necessarily advice-advice but more like thoughts and experiences with writing character accents and the such. I have been researching on my own for quite a while there is a lot of good advice out there, its not exactly what im looking for. 

A bit of info: the story I am working on is a complete work of fiction. Its also a high fantasy, but I'm doing my best to keep it original because that is what I want to write. This story is more for myself than anyone else, so I am not too concerned about some aspects (with dialogue) being a little -- overwhelming? I think is some of the advice I saw out there. Example; there were some points that a thick or heavy accent constantly being typed out can be overwhelming for both the writer and reader. While I can completely agree and understand, that is not my concern. 

Also, what ever accents I employ will not wholely be any earthly accents either. What I'm looking for most is somewhat complex I suppose but here is the gist.

Multiple races and cultures obviously ha e different ways of speaking. And in this story I am writing characters from rather different speaking cultures come together, so I am looking for a functional and logical way to practice writing their dialogue. Which should be written differently. I do not want to write in too similar of ways, I want to convey their cultural differences with their speech as well as their accents. I feel like this may be one of the final steps in my prep work to really bring the whole project together. 

However the only tips and advice I have researched thus far don't really touch on the points I've made. So I thought perhaps I could see what everyone's thoughts and opinions on here were. 

(If parts of my query were not clear enough than please ask anything you wish, or let me know and I'll go through and fix it)

Re: Discussing accents and dialects in character dialogue, advice??

#2
For the most part, don't change their spelling. That slows down the reader and usually gets annoying.

Your best bet is to look at language quirks while also describing certain aspects in narrative. If someone is described as having a clipped accent, we instantly picture something different from the other character with a drawl. Add in quirks based in their culture, such as the real-life use of "oi," "aye," "eh," "fixin-to," and so on. Make up a few words that slip through from their language, similar to the German "ja" and Russian "da."

This is a case where telling is usually better than showing, because spending a lot of time "showing" language can be disastrous. If you're not a philologist, don't try to be Tolkien. 

Re: Discussing accents and dialects in character dialogue, advice??

#3
People  in their own mind always make sense.  Thus you need to separate conversation from thoughts.  When a character is thinking they always use perfect grammar. It is only when they open their mouth that they reveal their differences. You thus need to be careful to keep accents 100% in dialog, yet you need to keep it out of thoughts.  Also, when two people of the same accent speak they understand each other so perfect grammar is required.

Accents always imply a physical distance at one time.  People who grow up next door to each other speak the same language with the same accent (unless the wall dividing their town a big part of the story).  So make sure people who have always lived near each other speak the same accent. Some minor characters in your story should pick up where the foreigners are from just by the accent, and comment on that - only some because this implies some exposure to the accent before.

Accents can be minor things like using "bucket" or "pail" - something most people (both in story and readers) won't even notice, but some consistency here along with a hint someplace toward the end (can you encounter a linguist at the local university?) can give delight to someone going back to reading it again.

Accents can be hard to figure out.  There is a distinct Scottish and American southern accents - both are English, yet they cannot understand each other.   (that is just to pick two - there are many more)  There are also people who came from elsewhere and never learn the language.  When these groups of people talk there always needs to be a break in the action while they try to figure out what the other just said, though someone who is good friends with the other may be first to figure it out and leap to action while everyone else is puzzled. People with a hard accent know they are not being understood, so their curses need to be directed at the new language.

Many people who move will slowly adapt the accent of their new home - but not all will.  So if the story includes people who have lived in the new city for a while you need to figure out who adopted a new accent.  Many of them will fall back onto their home accent instantly when talking to someone from home.  This dual accent should be a part of the story for those who have it.  There are also those who never figure out the new accent.

Foreign language speakers get an additional twist if they have lived in a new city long enough - they may have half forgotten their native language, while not having adopted the new one (see previous paragraph) .  When two of these people speak they often cannot understand each other despite the same accent.

Accents done right can enhance your story. However most attempts to use them fail.  Minor accents are not even noticed by the reader so what is the point.  Major accents must get in the way of the action and typically distract from the actual story. So be careful, is accent really an important part of the story, or something that could be cut to make the story better.  Your choice as an author, I just gave you the considerations I've observed over the years.

Re: Discussing accents and dialects in character dialogue, advice??

#4
To add to what other people commented....because I like their advice too...
I like to read dialogue that provides flavor to a person's character. If you think that a string of dialogue is overbearing, add a translator. You can add humor into the story that way too. 

Example:
Posh and Sophisticated Engineer: The apparatus was obviously designed with significant oversight regarding the load bearing junction.
Regular character: Oh! So this part of the machine wasn't meant to take an object that heavy.
Posh and Sophisticated Engineer: That is what I just said!

Accents are imaginary in a story because it depends on a reader's "internal voice". You need to provide prompts if the reader hasn't heard it before. Some readers don't have an "internal voice" so it is necessary to describe the accent for that sort of audience. In these situations, it sometimes requires a lengthy backstory about the different cultures. In other situations, just provide a statement about another character's reactions to the accent.

Example: 
"Oi! What you got' in dem ears o' yours? Cottin?". The foreigner glances about, unsure if this boy is addressing him or another person. The accent was pretty thick. Did he just ask if there was cotton in his ears? 
"I'm sorry? Can I help you?" 
The boy shakes his head mockingly. "Been calling you fer ages! You gonna buy sumthin or what?"
Working through the words, the foreigner understands that he's been standing in front of the stall too long without buying anything. "Oh, yes. I'd like a bag of these carrots."

Re: Discussing accents and dialects in character dialogue, advice??

#5
Thank you both! This is precisely the discussion I was looking for. Very good insights and gives me a lot to think on, so thank you very much!

I personally feel some sort of language difference is required ( without giving away details haha) otherwise have the both of them speaking in the same phrases and tones will just erk the crap out of me. The main female is from a town that has secluded itself for a few generations at least while there is also a mountain barrier between the other towns. (Its complex) needless to say, it is only logical they would speak differently even when using the same language. So while I dont want to tax myself or my future readers I do want to find a solid and functional way to write this properly without constantly narrating it. I feel just the simple show in a few phrases ( on top of many other tells throughout the culture and world itself ) will just sort of bring it together.  

I know its something I will have to fiddle with and figure out for myself as I go, but advice and thoughts are always helpful ^.^ 

So thank you, once again.