Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Writing Southern Dialogue

Like all authors, I have some reviews on my books that make me just scratch my head.  One such review dinged me because my characters that were born in Texas didn't have a southern twang throughout the book.

Here's my rebuttal:

* It's difficult to read an entire book filled with people talking 'southern.'  That would not only include idioms used only in the south, but missing 'g' sounds on most gerunds and present participles (-ing words), but also using the dialect of just that culture.  For example, which is easier to read for an entire 400-page book:

1)  I'm going to go to work now, and am taking the car.

2)  I'm-a fixin' to haul off to work and am takin' the car.

3)  I'm gonna go to work now, and am takin' the car.

Yes, that second one is considered to be the most 'southern,' but to most Northerners, 'fixin' doesn't make sense.  However, they use that term a LOT in Texas.  So I opt for the third one, but don't make ALL the -ing words missing the final 'g' so it's a little easier to read.  If the reader sees an entire page missing the final 'g,' it'll be tough for them to read.

* I've been to Texas a few times in my life.  Not EVERYONE speaks 'southern' there, with a twang.  I even asked one taxi driver about it, figuring he'd know more than anyone else about this, since he dealt with the public a lot.  He said he rarely heard southern accents.  Granted, it was near a big city (San Antonio) where many tourists came to visit.  But my guess is that the dyed-in-the-wool southern accents that were tough to understand came from people who were sheltered from outsiders in their lifetime.

So the next time a reader decides to ding a book for not being tough to read...I MEAN full of southern speech, just know the author may have a reason for it.  They're also making it easier you for you to read.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

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