Tuesday 28 April 2015

Ey up me duck!

This week I sent part of my novel in to be edited. What was picked up was the improvement in my dialogue.

The novel is a gritty police procedural, which is set on a fictional estate in Nottingham. In the piece the characters speak in colloquial vernacular, (slang).

Having been born and raised in Nottingham, I find writing in local dialect very easy. My characters speak in my mother tongue, the hardest part of the writing is how to spell the words, I know the sounds but not the spellings. I found a great guide in the Left Lion magazine. http://www.leftlion.co.uk/articles.cfm/title/aah-ter-talk-notts/id/2965

I must admit that a lot of my characters swear. This is because I believe that dialogue should sound authentic. The way a character speaks should be appropriate to that character. My novel is about drug dealers, readers wouldn’t believe a drug dealer who said ‘Oh dear,’ they expect such rough and ready characters to use bad language.

I try to keep my dialogue short. People don’t usually speak in long sentences, so why would my characters. What people usually do is add a few ums and urrghs to their conversations, but writing dialogue the way people literally speak would quickly become irritating to the person reading it, so I tend to leave out the awkward pauses, and write my dialogue as realistically as possible, without making my characters irksome.

I have stopped using so many dialogue tags, (he said, she said). Since I’ve learnt about beats I find my dialogue sounds a lot more realistic with some action interspersed between speakers.

One of the things I was commended on was that none of my characters call another character ‘Duck’. A lot of people associate Nottingham people with the word duck. Saying ey up me duck instead of hello, and calling people duck, which is, according to the Left Lion, a term of endearment. I only call people duck when I’m in a different Town or City, then I tend to broaden my accent.  I know very few Nottingham people who use it, (although they do say ey up), so I didn’t want my characters to use it. According to my editing class, to use the term would have been lazy as it’s stereotypical Nottingham talk.

Although my dialogue is getting a lot better, it’s still not perfect. One of the things I was picked up on was question marks. I had left the question mark off a piece of speech, because although it was a question, the character already knew what the answer was going to be, so she was really being sarcastic. This lead to a discussion on when is a question not a question. Apparently they don’t use question marks in Italy. A lot of the editors thought that I was wrong to leave off the question mark, and in the end I agreed with them. I have to consider the rule of the genre, and whether the readers would expect it. I think they would.


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