“Ah didnae stutter.” Experimenting with Dialogue in my WIP


Guid efternuin an’ welcome back tae mah blog! Or in plain English: Good afternoon and welcome back to my blog!

As you can tell, I’m having a wee bit of fun playing around with dialogue in my WIP, and by dialogue, I mean accents specifically.

Some Background on the Project

The project that I’m currently working on is the first in a comedic fantasy series (still untitled) that follows the misadventures of Mongrel, an orphan with an unconventional upbringing who enters himself in a high-stakes competition to determine the fate of the six–er–seven kingdoms. He recruits a hodgepodge group of outcasts and exiles to aid him on his adventure, including a feisty young dwarf named for her weapon of choice and a magically-challenged elf. He’s also assisted by Wizard White Beard’s apprentice, Margo, who doesn’t even want to be a wizard. With their help, Mongrel becomes more than what his name implies and the only possible hero in a “friendly” competition that is anything but. Real synopsis in the works.

Basically, it’s a series that pokes fun at fantasy tropes: wizards, adventures, the mismatch group, destiny, etc., while providing some real suspense and all the feels. I’ll be seeking beta readers soon if anyone’s interested. **Cough, cough.** But for now, I’m still playing around with a few things, including accents.

This book includes several fantasy trope characters including dwarves, elves, wizards, ogres, etc., etc., etc., and my goal is for each species–er–race–whatever to have their own unique flavor. One of the ways I’m accomplishing that is by giving some of the characters accents. For my dwarves, I’ve always imagined them having Scottish accents, but no matter how many phrases I slipped in, it just wasn’t coming across. So recently I’ve gone back and reworked the dialogue to include the accent.

With the help of the internet and a few trusted friends from the UK, I’ve managed to translate all of the dwarves’ dialogue from Plain English to Scottish.

So, “Come say that closer to my face!” is written as “Come say ‘at closer tae mah face!” And “I ought to smash your face in” becomes “Ah ooght tae smash yer face in.” Both, it turns out, are very common phrases among dwarves.

For the most part, it’s clear and easy to read, but there have been a few sections I’ve had to rewrite for the sake of readability, otherwise the dwarves would sound like Lord MacGuffin’s son from Disney’s Brave. Remember, the one whose accent is so thick that no one can understand him. Here’s a clip in case you haven’t seen the movie so you know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, wish me luck as I tackle this daunting task. Hopefully, readers will enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Stay tuned for more updates on my WIP.

I’ll see ye aw suin!


12 thoughts on ““Ah didnae stutter.” Experimenting with Dialogue in my WIP

  1. Getting accents down on paper can be tough. In my first book, I had a Scottish patient. My intent was to have him overdo the accent on purpose, thereby getting more attention from the doc. I don’t think it came across that way, and a reviewer slammed me for it, saying it was too stereotypical. Ouch, but point taken.

    But in my current WIP, I have people from a foreign country, so I need to try to find the right balance of making some of their words accented but not too much.

    I think what you’ve done here is great. Gets the accent across while still understanding the dialogue. Plus, with yours being comedic, that adds nicely to the humor.

    • I agree. It’s tough. I do have concerns readers won’t like it. That’s why beta readers will be so important.

      I think with my story being comedy I can get away with more. One of the perks of the genre. Lol. Nutlike you said it’s all about balance.

  2. Jon

    Ye can put me doon for bein a beta reader, so ye can. Not that I am at all Scots … my mother’s family are Irish, if that’ll do.

  3. My father’s family came from Scotland originally, though I only discovered that last year – so much for knowing/having an accent. But I’m waving my hand in the air to volunteer as a beta reader if you still need them! This sounds like a great story and I love Mongrel already.

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