Anyone who’s read one of Rose Lerner’s novels (In for a Penny and A Lily Among Thorns) will know that her characters come from a wide range of backgrounds. Rose is a master at writing accents so a reader can hear her characters’ distinctive voices.
She’s very generously written this post on how she writes characters with different accents, and she’s giving away a copy of A Lily Among Thorns to one lucky commenter!
Hi everyone! Kat already wrote a great post about how I used accents in In for a Penny and a really awesome post on writing accents generally…I’ll try not to repeat myself, or her!
British people pay a lot of attention to accents. People from different regions and different social classes have marked differences in speech, and everyone is very conscious of that fact. Of course this is true in the States as well, but I really don’t think the degree is comparable.
I can think of several British memoirs off the top of my head that extensively discuss accents, either by referencing others’ accents by specific type or talking about the memoirist’s own accent (poor Roger Moore practically had a complex about not sounding posh enough!), and anyone remember that Monty Python sketch where no one can understand the rural accents and slang at the airfield?
So if, like me, you tend to write romances that have major characters from a variety of places and social classes, paying attention to accents is important. Here are a few guidelines and tips for how I do it:
1. I never write an accent phonetically.
Writing a particular word phonetically because its pronunciation is so different or it’s unique to a particular accent, okay. Writing all a character’s dialogue that way, no. Apart from being sometimes confusing for the reader, I’m going to come right out and say that I think this is rude.