Tuesday, December 30, 2008

To Dialect or Not to Dialect?

Is that even a question any more?

I have it on good authority -- my agent's and a variety of editors' -- that using dialect in novels and short stories is a hard, if not impossible, sell.

I can't argue that too much. I don't use dialect all that often. I'm a firm believer in the 'one vocal tic per character' rule.

And yet, there are plenty of works done in dialect that I enjoy. And not all of them are from the 19th century, either. Sure, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens used dialect all the time, but today's response is that they were writing at a different time. But I've read dialect-heavy stories in The New Yorker, and those recently. Most of them weren't in the Western genre, however.

So, what're your thoughts? Love it, hate it, couldn't care less about it, it's fine if it works but it's hard to make it work?

A.E. Stanton

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I have to sound out the words in my head to figure out what the character is trying to say, it is too much. It takes me out of the story and interrupts the flow. A little bit is OK, but too much is too much.


January 1, 2009 at 7:54 PM  
Anonymous WKEverhart said...

I dialect to a degree. A very wise woman once told me to use it sparingly. I try, but because of geography I sometimes think in dialect, a difficult problem to solve. Poor Mark Twain would never find an agent these days, huh?

January 4, 2009 at 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read 'The Sky People by S.M. Stirling", based on several great reviews. It sounded like the kind of thing I would like, but I ended up hating it, primarily, due to the constant faux-Cajun dialect the main character employed. It really detracted from my enjoyment of the book.

(Sorry, posted in the wrong place before!)


January 10, 2009 at 9:15 AM  

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