Character Dialects too much Characterization?

Use this forum to discuss the November 2019 Book of the month, "Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval War And Its Aftermath", by Randy Miller.
LyorBoone
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Character Dialects too much Characterization?

Post by LyorBoone »

In reading this story, the creatively spelled words that illustrate the different dialects of characters standout. It reminds me of Mark Twain, and, as such, I think it might go a little overboard. For instance one character ask something along the lines of: "You grow with a fahm?" "Fahm" being the main word that stands out in my memory. At first I thought it might be family, but later the context made it known to me that farm was the intended word. I like the different dialect's, but I think there need to rules to balance them. What about you all? What are some words that had you second guessing what you were reading? And what rules do you think would make the creative spellings work better in this story?
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme” - Mark Twain. Dare we say the same thing about every story that gets told in the world?

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Post by wordslinger42 »

In some respects, I appreciated the dialect because it helped make each character unique and memorable. A lot of times in books, all of the characters sound exactly the same, and it makes it difficult to connect to them. I didn't think that was the case in this book. That being said, there were many times that I was frustrated because I had to re-read certain words in order to figure out what the characters were saying, which was really frustrating. I think if the author had focused on a couple dialects, rather than trying to include so many, it would have done wonders for the story.

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Post by Abacus »

A word like fahm would not be strange to New Englanders, we make jokes ourselves about the accent and sayings like "pahk the cah in Hahvad Yahd".

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Post by AvidBibliophile »

I appreciated the inclusion of the various accents, dialects, and slang terminology used; it gave an authentic coating to the raw dialogue scenes, but yes, there were moments when I had to read a sentence one or two times to get the intended gist of the spoken reply. I liked the lines of Lailani dialect: "Youa comma with me, I taka care a youa nice."

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Post by LyorBoone »

wordslinger42 wrote:
30 Nov 2019, 14:12
In some respects, I appreciated the dialect because it helped make each character unique and memorable. A lot of times in books, all of the characters sound exactly the same, and it makes it difficult to connect to them. I didn't think that was the case in this book. That being said, there were many times that I was frustrated because I had to re-read certain words in order to figure out what the characters were saying, which was really frustrating. I think if the author had focused on a couple dialects, rather than trying to include so many, it would have done wonders for the story.

Indeed less would feel like more. I think less story revolving around dialogue may have made the dialects more special, and allow the story to flow better.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme” - Mark Twain. Dare we say the same thing about every story that gets told in the world?

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Post by chelhack »

I think that the dialect adds to the uniqueness of the story. I also think that it is kind of funny because I can almost hear them speaking when I read the book. I think that it is an asset to the story
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Post by DC Brown »

The accents helped me understand the story. It showed how cliques could be formed even though one might not expect disunity based on family origin in such an intense environment.

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Post by randy6175 »

AvidBibliophile wrote:
30 Nov 2019, 20:07
I appreciated the inclusion of the various accents, dialects, and slang terminology used; it gave an authentic coating to the raw dialogue scenes, but yes, there were moments when I had to read a sentence one or two times to get the intended gist of the spoken reply. I liked the lines of Lailani dialect: "Youa comma with me, I taka care a youa nice."
Have to say, it was a rough decision to do the dialog in regional accents. Against all educated advice I went with it anyway. It was important to me to contrast all of the different cultures entwined in the Vietnam War in a distinctive way.

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Post by DrHyde_not_Jekyll »

This was a part of the book that I had mixed feelings about while reading. I appreciated that the author went to these lengths to add "character" to his characters. But, although I didn't have any issues figuring out what the words were, it definitely slowed me down and made my reading feel a bit herky jerky. I don't think in "Vamont-ese" and so my brain had an issue with wanting to fill in the word normally yet reading a word that most definitely was not supposed to be pronounced normally. I think this is why some of those commenting have said focusing on one or two dialects in the book instead of so many would have been better -- it just tires your brain after awhile.

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Post by AvidBibliophile »

randy6175 wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 01:27
Have to say, it was a rough decision to do the dialog in regional accents. Against all educated advice I went with it anyway. It was important to me to contrast all of the different cultures entwined in the Vietnam War in a distinctive way.
I think you made the right decision to follow your instincts and include a characteristic that made the story read as you intended it. Risky or not, you remained genuine to yourself as a writer, and to your vision for this story. It's impossible to please everyone, in any facet of life, and I suspect that most readers might overlook the true challenge and complexity required to write lines of dialogue with regionally specific accents in the first place! Not an easy feat.

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Post by Lee-Ann20 »

wordslinger42 wrote:
30 Nov 2019, 14:12
In some respects, I appreciated the dialect because it helped make each character unique and memorable. A lot of times in books, all of the characters sound exactly the same, and it makes it difficult to connect to them. I didn't think that was the case in this book. That being said, there were many times that I was frustrated because I had to re-read certain words in order to figure out what the characters were saying, which was really frustrating. I think if the author had focused on a couple dialects, rather than trying to include so many, it would have done wonders for the story.
I agree. It was hard to read through all the different dialogues. If it was just the main characters, I think it wouldn't have been such a slog.

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Post by randy6175 »

AvidBibliophile wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 14:29
randy6175 wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 01:27
Have to say, it was a rough decision to do the dialog in regional accents. Against all educated advice I went with it anyway. It was important to me to contrast all of the different cultures entwined in the Vietnam War in a distinctive way.
I think you made the right decision to follow your instincts and include a characteristic that made the story read as you intended it. Risky or not, you remained genuine to yourself as a writer, and to your vision for this story. It's impossible to please everyone, in any facet of life, and I suspect that most readers might overlook the true challenge and complexity required to write lines of dialogue with regionally specific accents in the first place! Not an easy feat.
Thank you.

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Post by Ellylion »

I think it's a great touch adding dialects because it helps to understand the characters better, to look deeply into their inner world :)

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Post by wordslinger42 »

Lee-Ann20 wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 18:20
wordslinger42 wrote:
30 Nov 2019, 14:12
In some respects, I appreciated the dialect because it helped make each character unique and memorable. A lot of times in books, all of the characters sound exactly the same, and it makes it difficult to connect to them. I didn't think that was the case in this book. That being said, there were many times that I was frustrated because I had to re-read certain words in order to figure out what the characters were saying, which was really frustrating. I think if the author had focused on a couple dialects, rather than trying to include so many, it would have done wonders for the story.
I agree. It was hard to read through all the different dialogues. If it was just the main characters, I think it wouldn't have been such a slog.
Absolutely! The fact that there were pages of heavy dialect made certain sections move really slowly.

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Post by OliviaLouise »

I think the inclusion of the dialects is pretty important to the story because of the way it sets characters apart. I've found that the more of the dialect you read, the easier it gets, even if you do have to reread some words a couple of times in order to understand. I have no problem with this, personally. :)

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