Using accents while staying legible
My character is using a hardly legible accent, or simply an accent which is not comfortable for a reader to read. For example:
“Ye've caught us in th' middle o' supper. Seein' as how yer no bleedin' or in immediate danger, I’ll let th' others finish their meal before callin' them t' help.
As you can see, it is not comfortable to read at all, but I would like to maintain the foreign feel of the character, including his strong accent, which is his distinguishing mark and makes him stand out of the crowd. The character is also very talkative, so his lines are long with tons of idiomatic expressions, but after testing the chapter I found the accent is simply too annoying to read (and write, haha).
TLDR: How do I use difficult accents while maintaining comfortable legibility?
Don't fall into the trap of assuming that you have to act out how dialogue is spoken. Yes, some author do try indicate every nuance of sound in some character's speech, but most readers find it highly annoying.
Fortunately you don't have to rely on acting it out. Your book has a narrator. You narrator can simply say that the character had an incomprehensible accent the first time they speak.
To remind the reader that this character is hard to understand, you can then throw in just a few hints of their accent. Not enough to be illegible, but enough that we remember that this character speaks this way. So you might do something like this:
"I'm gowink down to the river."
Bad example, but by indicating the sound of just one word here and there you can remind the reader without confusing and them.
Also, remember that people who speak very differently from those around them probably have more differences than just their accent. Accents will normalize with contact, so there has to be some cultural and experiential differences as well. Think about what would this person say that is different, not simply how differently they would pronounce the same words.
1 comment thread
Perhaps you could use a different font for his dialogue. E.g. in "Asterix and the Goths", the Goth language is set in fraktur font.
This would serve as a constant reminder of his weird accent; but be sure to choose a font which fits his character, and still looks good when mixed with your normal font.
1 comment thread