When a character has an accent, how do you write it?

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Sionevar, Oct 29, 2018.

  1. Sionevar

    Sionevar Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Sep 6, 2018
    Curious to know how other fanfic writers handle writing Trek characters with accents.

    When you are writing Scotty, do you write his dialogue in Scots e.g. by having him say 'I cannae dae that Cap'n!' instead of 'I can't do that, Captain'.

    Ditto for Doctor McCoy and his southern charms :-)

    When I write Scotty, I use some Scottish slang terms e.g. having him call someone a numpty, but it's mostly 'regular' English. I'm not at all familiar with the Georgian accent, and don't really know what word choices people from Georgia would make (whereas I'm pretty familiar with Scots) so I sometimes struggle to write McCoy accurately.

    Are there any other characters this applies to? How have you all approached the issue?
    lurok likes this.
  2. SolarisOne

    SolarisOne Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 7, 2016
    "I cannae do that, Captain."
  3. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    I don't really write accents or dialect. I usually might mention where a person is from if it's germane to describing the character but that's about it. Though to this point I haven't used Scotty or McCoy or even Trip in any of my stories. If I did, I would look to Trek Lit. for examples. For alien cultures, or even sometimes with human characters, I will put alien words for things, or alien curse words or insults in my dialogue.
  4. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    I've written a character with a strong Texan accent before and it's hellish :lol:

    There are some sites out there with information on writing accents, but it can be difficult to do. I found I had to write out his dialogue in proper English and then go back and butcher it. Not really sure if it added to the character or not.
  5. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

    Jul 5, 2013
    As a reader, it doesn't. You said "butcher it", which I feel is an apt description. Too often, writers try to create the "proper" accent and end up making it near impossible to figure out what the character is actually saying, kind of like that guy in BRAVE.

    There is this:
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
  6. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    I generally don't write accents. I just simply say that the character is speaking with a distinct accent and let the reader take it from there.
    Sgt_G likes this.
  7. psCargile

    psCargile Captain Captain

    Mar 4, 2010
    A word here and there, and then stop when readers get the idea. If it's hard to write, it's hard to read.

    There are books on how to write dialogue on Amazon. I just read one.

    Elmore Leonard suggests to not bother in his ten rules for writing. Google it.
  8. Sionevar

    Sionevar Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Sep 6, 2018
    That's the strategy I've been using until now - write the dialogue in 'normal' English, then add some accented words here and there to give the reader an idea of where the person is from and how they might sound. Seems to work well enough :-)
  9. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    May 10, 2005
    The visitor's bullpen
    Good luck writing out accents like this... :lol:

  10. Butters

    Butters Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2008
    The Northwest
    For a character as well known as Scot or Chekhov, with equally famous phrases. I’d write out the accent.

    For a new character, if having an accent was even important, or there was comedy mileage in it, I’d write the proper English in the dialogue tags, but add on some description and context, something like:

    ‘A cup of tea please’ the green blob replied, though to Jim’s ear, it sounded much more like kepperty plez, but the blobian accent always had grated on his ear.
  11. sekundant

    sekundant Fleet Captain Premium Member

    Jun 27, 2018
    Well, I hope it is not to late to answer. I never wrote fanfiction and I don't believe I would someday, but I became a good/passionate reader. I have to say as a non native English speaker, it is ok to read characters with accent, if I can still understand what they are talking about. Although, it is disturbing if the character speaks sometimes with very heavy accent then her/his next sentence is spoken with finest Oxford English. It makes the character unbelievable and I am not happy with authors realization of figure .