Monday, June 20, 2011

The Accent Predicament: to use or not to use...

So, dear readers, in a never-ending quest to find that perfect story my future agent just can't get enough of, I've begun a new adventure! I'm still editing Keepers, polishing and perfecting and the like, but there really isn't that much left to do. As such, I've move onto the other characters dying to get out of my head and onto paper.

My new story, which shall, for the moment, remain title-less due to lack of any flashes of brilliant inspiration, takes place here:

...on the coast bordering the beautiful Highland mountains of Scotland. It involves a strong, handsome fisherman named Kade, who probably looks something like this:

...who falls in love with a beautiful, cunning, trickster maiden with violet eyes, wild dark hair, and... oh yeah... she's a mermaid named Alastrina. She might look something like this:

...with darker hair and dark violet/blue eyes, of course. 

My story is completely outlined (thanks to Blake Snyder's beat sheet and Save the Cats) and I've already started writing the first few chapters. I'm SO incredibly excited about this story, as its not like anything I've ever written. I'm thrilled to be diving into this unique world!

But I'm having a "wee bit" of a problem.

For the life of me, I can't decide what to do about the Scottish accent.

Born in Nebraska and raised in Idaho, I'm about as American as they come--accent and all. True, I've spent a fair amount of time traveling and living abroad. However, this still has not prepared me for writing in another language, (so to speak).

Because I've imagined my story in Scotland, and I'm trying to draw on Scottish folklore, I really want to make sure the reader can hear the unique roll of the Scottish accent coming out of my characters. HOWEVER, at the same time, I know that writers who try to execute accents in their stories often frustrate and confuse readers.

This, I do NOT want to do!

I took the first chapter of this new story to my writing posse this week for critique. They had some wonderful suggestions on how I could execute the Scottish-ness without going overboard. I'll probably implement many of their ideas into my writing.

But I wanted to extend my advice, and 'cast my net'--so to speak--even further. Have any of you had experience writing accents/dialect other than English? I'm particularly interested in hearing from those of you from other countries, or who have lived abroad for any period of time. How would you suggest going about writing a Scottish accent--if at all?


T.D. McFrost said...

Sounds like an awesome story!

Sometimes when ideas or characters are gnawing at our heads we just have to give them the time of day.

I also like that you're a plotter--cheers to us plotters who can beat the pants off those pansters anyday! (Mad rhyming skills!)


Lana said...

First of all, I want to know how it's 'unlike anything you've ever writter'?
Sounds like a great story! You're excitement makes me want to write :)

As for the accent, I dated someone from the middle east and I wrote a lot about him. I didn't really write out his accent, I wrote the way he talked. He always spoke in broken english, for example 'I'm go to sleep now', 'you want apple?', 'one day we marry, ok?' Things like that...
Trainspotting is SO hard to read because of the Irish accent so careful not to fall into that - although you're already aware of not doing that which is good.
Maybe watch some youtube videos of Scottish people talking?

Jess said...

Hmmm.. I have no advice for you other than to watch Mike Meyers in the cult movie hit, So I Married An Axe Murderer. It won't help you out with more ancient Scottish language, but it's really entertaining :)

Jess said...

(PS- I said to watch it because the dad character--played by Mike Meyers--is Scottish and has some hilarious phrases)

Julie said...

T.D.: Thanks! Its always a relief to hear that people OTHER than me, myself and I think the story idea is good ( ; And agreed... woot, woot to plotters...

...AND ryhmers. Rock on.

Lana: This is new for me because I've never delved into fantasy before! Fiction, yes. Always. But this will be my first fantasy attempt!

I think the reason I never tried fantasy before is because I never felt like I had anything unique enough... I didn't want to be like a re-hashed version Stephenie Meyer or HP (even though I love both of those series to death!).

But now I finally feel like I have something pretty unique here, and its so exciting to be in a world I've never been before!

Also, I appreciet your accent comments. That's a good point... that people might be able to "hear" the accent without writing it, just by the words you use. I'll have to add that to my list of uber-good suggestions! Thanks!

Jess: is it so lame that I've never seen that movie?! It's definitely going on the Blockbuster que, as we speak.

P.s. I DID watch Made of Honor (that cheesey chick flick with Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan)... I have to admit that I may or may not have commendeered some of their Scottish phrases--modified, of course. I couldn't help it! They were too funny!

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