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Pondering a possible problem.

I've gotten one bit of feedback noting that a reader was jarred out of the story by one line in which I spelled out some of Wakka's dialect.

I am preoccupied with capturing the sounds of voices, and will occasionally use spelling to emphasize the contrast between Cid's and Wakka's down-to-earth speech patterns and the more formal speech of those around them. However, I've been doing this all my life, so what looks normal to me may be driving my readers bonkers. Is this a bad habit I need to chuck?

Poll #1546702 Accents/dialects in Dialogue

Seeing spellings like "thinkin'" to indicate the accent of a character like Wakka...

...jars me right out of a story.
...irks me. I wish writers wouldn't do this.
...doesn't bother me.
...can enhance the dialogue, but can be done badly.
...helps me hear the characters' voices in my head.
Other: see my comments below.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 2nd, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
I picked that it irked me and that it can enhance the dialogue both because of two things. First, it can be overused and abused, but if it's kept to a minimum and kept consistent, it can be good.

The key is balance, basically.
Apr. 2nd, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC)
I'd probably compare writing accents to describing clothing or other forms of description. Good for setting a scene, but not something that should be continually brought to attention. It's nice for establishing a character's voice in my head, but reading a perfectly-faithful rendition of Wakka's (or anyone's)for more than a few lines when the accent is really nothing more that a back drop to the dialogue would get distracting, especially if just dropping in a few syntactical hints here and there would evoke a similar level of voice recognition.

Plus, from the point of view of a listener (seriously, I should probably just say that I think 75% of aesthetic decisions can be made based on the story's POV), unless the accent itself was important, it would probably get less noticeable the longer the conversation went on.
Apr. 2nd, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
Basically, what everyone else said. With a deft hand and a light touch, it can add spice. For example, "ya" for "you", "don'tcha" for "don't you", "thinkin'", things like that, don't bother me and I find they help to get the feel of a character down. Something like "I wuz jes' thinkin'", on the other hand, is too much. A word here or there can capture the feel without being clunky; for example, "I was just thinkin'" sounds more or less the same in the reader's head as "I wuz jes' thinkin'", or at least it does in mine.

Also, you have a very obvious referent here: the original game text. You're not trying to capture a purely spoken accent in text by yourself; the original subtitles have done it for you. If you stick to the level of playing around that the game itself did, you're probably okay.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)

I tend to use only what textual clues the game gives me when writing dialogue, but that's me.

(Also, for me, it's infinitely more about word choice and the music of the words, for lack of better explanation. For example, in Dragon Age: Origins, there's one character with a Breton French accent and one with a sort of Spanish accent, neither of which are rendered in the written subtitles. Every fic I've read for the fandom perfectly captured the characters' voices without using things like "thinkin'", which I appreciated.)

....I don't know. *flails hands*
Apr. 3rd, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
Also, you have a very obvious referent here: the original game text. You're not trying to capture a purely spoken accent in text by yourself; the original subtitles have done it for you. If you stick to the level of playing around that the game itself did, you're probably okay.

This, basically.

I do think that it's possible for the writing out of accents to be overdone to the point that it pulls me out of the story, but I think some level of it -- and not just for characters with an accent, but also for characters like Jecht who speak in bad grammar -- adds flavor and makes the character's voice more distinctive.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
Yep, I guess I need to go back to the game script -- which, of course, I have!

I would never write "I wuz jest thinkin'", and I don't even know why. It's too much.

Edited at 2010-04-03 04:32 am (UTC)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 04:45 am (UTC)
Aha. Okay, it wasn't my imagination. Wakka's subtitles don't reproduce everything, of course, but they spell out some of his dialect, including "brudda".

Tidus: Yo! Hiya!
Wakka: You wanna try that move one more time?
Wakka: You're no amateur. Who you play for?
Tidus: The Zanarkand Abes!
Wakka: What team you say again?
Tidus: Uh, I meant...Forget that. I got too, uh...close to Sin and my head's all foggy-like. So I don't know where this place is. Or even where I came from.
Wakka: Sin's toxin got to you. But, you're still alive. Praise be to Yevon!

The subtitles make liberal use of ellipses, dashes and even commas to indicate pauses -- not that I would recommend doing the latter.

Rikku, Tidus and Wakka use "gonna" and "donno" fairly often.

Tidus: Lemme go!
Wakka: Got a favor to ask ya.

The dropped g isn't showing up, however.

Wakka: What gets me, though... is we gotta suffer, 'cause of what some goofballs did way back when! 'Course, we must always repent for our sins! That's important! It's just that, it's hard to keep at it sometimes, you know?

Cid's got "gonna" syndrome as well.

Cid: Rikku, you read me? We're gonna fight that thing!

And of course, Cid uses "kiddo".

Edited at 2010-04-03 04:52 am (UTC)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 12:20 am (UTC)
Considering I keep the subtitles on [and am currently playing FFX again], I'd be jarred out of the story is Wakka DIDN'T talk the way he does ... which is sort of like a Jamaican bobsledder at the beach. [Ja mon ^_^]
Apr. 3rd, 2010 12:32 am (UTC)
This is an odd example, I guess, but I remember reading Gone with the Wind back in jr high after I saw the movie. The introduction of Mammy gave me hell for a paragraph or two because I had to read some of her dialogue out loud for it to make sense. I sure as fuck didn't know that 'gwine' meant 'going to', but once I said it, I remember thinking it was pretty damn neat. Once I had a couple of her words figured out, I had a hell of a lot of fun reading her. I like characters that have their own flavor.

I don't know. Maybe it's just me. I like to know that writers consider accents and speech patterns when they slap their ideas on a sheet of paper. (type, write, what-the-hell-ever) Gotta agree with eclective just above me. Once you have the character's voice down, just keep going with it. You can't have Wakka saying "I say, be a good chap and fetch me that duvet. It's become quite chilly." when we all know he'd say, "Hey, toss me that blanket. I'm cold, ya know?"

Yeah, just use it enough to keep Wakka sounding like Wakka. I've not had any problems reading your character voices at all. I dig your Rikku the most. She just sounds right. Er, reads right. Er, you know what I mean.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 05:41 am (UTC)
I don't trust the subtitles, because subtitles are, surprise surprise, written by people who are attempting to "get across" an accent and are therefore just as guilty as any fan writer. The subtitles don't pop into existence out of nowhere. A deliberate decision was made to do it when the character was created. Perhaps it's my Southern sensibilities, my abhorrence of dialect written out because people who want to get across a Southern accent are just totally ham-handed about it and don't integrate it. I don't know. I can't handle it anywhere, in any context. It is something that will almost always make me leave a story if I am not compelled to continue. If there's an 1,000 word story, and Wakka uses "ya" or anything other word more than five times, that's it, I'm done.

I think most writers misuse and overuse it, so much so, it jars me directly out whenever I see it used anywhere. I have sworn off doing it and I don't think it hinders my writing at all because people are not reading FFX/X-2 fic in a vacuum. They've played the game! They already know what Wakka sounds like; it's just redundant.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 11:02 am (UTC)
Aha. So even the amount of dialect in the subtitles probably drives you nuts.

Hm. Diametrically opposed viewpoints.

Backtracking, it was indeed your comment I was remembering. I value your opinion, and I hate to think that I'm losing readers like you!

I guess there's no right answer that can satisfy everybody (not least me).

I know exactly what you mean about ham-handed treatments of Southern accents. Yet I would have a hard time writing a story about my memaw without a single instance of "y'all".
Apr. 4th, 2010 12:12 am (UTC)
Pretty much, yeah, so most of the time I browse by because in general it feels like the author telling me something I already know in the case of fandoms with spoken medias. It reminds me, kind of, when one character repeats the other character's name over and over and over when speaking to them when they're the only two in the conversation.

I recognize that I am weird and don't expect people to cater to me, though. Can't please everyone! I am a bad choice, I am too particular. *g* I am really too hard to please. Dialect drives me nuts, I don't read WIPs anymore, seme/uke dynamics are boring to me...basically it means that in general I read very little. If I want a story I tend to go write it myself. >.>
Apr. 4th, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC)
It is great when it works, but, when it does not, it can be a pain in the butt to read. (I once tried sounding out the dialogue for a character who had no teeth, and all of the sounds I had to drop made the lines unreadable, though certainly amusing.)
Apr. 6th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
we've talked about this before as I use it too when I have Wakka talking but I think I use it only up to a certain emphasis. I've seen some people try it with some German-style accents and its just plain annoying but that's probably because the accent can be rather thick compared to Wakka's island-boy style. you've said it yourself too, certain ways the sentences are phrased with word placement and added action mannerisms helps you really see the characters.

Edited at 2010-04-06 09:49 pm (UTC)
Apr. 7th, 2010 05:55 am (UTC)
Pronounced dialect in any story (fanfic, original fic) is hit or miss with me. It takes a really skilled writer to get it right. I think dialect is like ground pepper. Add a little pepper to a dish and yumyum. Add just a little too much pepper to a dish and *cough* *cough *cough* X[

Over in FFXII fandom, I've seen some baaaad Basch dialog as Ye Olde Mangled English.
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