30 April 2012

Creating Fictional Characters with Spoken Accents

Accents Can Help Your Fictional Characters

Just like in real life, accents can tell a lot about a fictional character. An accent serves as a reminder that an individual is unique. It sets the speaker apart from those without accents. When a fictional character speaks with an accent, it may help to give the landscape a wider breadth because the reader imagines an individual who comes from far away. Accents reflect realism. The world we live in has many accents, both domestic and foreign. Using them with your fiction can help to imbue your characters with greater depth.

How to Give a Fictional Character an Accent

In short, you have two options for giving your character an accent. The first is to change the way your spell the words. The second is to tell your reader that the character has an accent. Both methods have pros and cons.

Portraying Character Accents through Spelling

When you change spellings, you guarantee that the reader will know the person is speaking with an accent. Unfortunately, some readers might not know what you intended the misspelled word to mean. Words altered too much can frustrate readers. When misspelling words to portray an accent, make sure they are not too different from the original. If words are far removed from the original, then you had better come right out and tell the reader what the character is saying. Afterward, the reader will be able to more easily digest the word or words the character is speaking differently. Characters who pronounce certain words differently can add a special flavor that is quite enjoyable.

Describe Character Accents

When you don’t change the spellings of words, you need to tell your readers about accents through description. You can simply state the type of accent, such as “Russian accent,” or you can describe exactly how the character pronounces certain words. The downside to this method is that you need to remind your reader occasionally. The text does not show the accent so the burden falls upon the narrator’s voice. Don’t believe you can tell your readers once and have them remember throughout an entire book. You will have to drop hints and reminders repeatedly if you want your readers to imagine the accent you hear in your head.

Character Accents Elicit Reactions

An additional way to demonstrate your characters’ spoken accents is to have other characters react to them. Is the foreign speaker hard to understand? Is the sound pleasant or annoying? Your other characters might make comments about an accent or, at the very least, they should have a thought or two about it.

Accents Enhance Fictional Characters

If you are looking for a simple trick to set a character apart, give him or her an accent. Whether it be regional or foreign, the accent will give the character a unique feel.

26 April 2012

How Foreign Language Enhances Fictional Characters

Characters Need Characteristics

Giving a fictional character a foreign language can help a great deal. If you give a character an Italian accent, for example, a reader’s entire concept of Italy will probably get added to that character. Making a character hail from a foreign land increases that character’s depth immediately. Preconceived ideas come prepackaged with almost any language you choose. You can relate a lot of information almost instantaneously.

Multiple Languages Can Imply Value for Fictional Characters

Even if you tell your reader outright that your character is dumb, they may believe otherwise if the character speaks multiple languages. The more languages spoken, the higher marks they might receive. Even if intelligence isn’t included, multiple languages add value to a character. A simple-minded character can still translate for others. A character that can read in more than one language may be very valuable to other characters, and to your plot. A single multi-lingual character might help to write you out of several corners, especially if your characters are moving from country to country.

Foreign Languages Add Depth to Stories

When used with finesse, fictional foreign languages can add depth not only to characters but also to entire fictional settings.
Languages imply:
  • Distance
  • Culture
  • Regions
  • Borders
  • Governments
  • Varied upbringing
That is just a handful, and the list can go on. Language can even suggest the passage of time. Writers often use ancient languages to increase intrigue.

Try Using Languages to Spice Up Your Fiction

If your characters have turned out dull, or you are looking for a special twist, try adding the aspect of a foreign language to one of your characters. You might enhance your writing with an unexpected and interesting dynamic.

13 April 2012

Foreign Words Add Realism to Fiction

Foreign Language Enhances Realism of Fictional Characters

farm_fenceYou can make a few words go a very long way in your fiction. You can go throughout a book, claiming that your character is French, but as soon as he or she says, “Bonjour,” you have sold realism to the reader. In fact, you might not even have to tell your reader from where your character originates. If you were to write a story about the American Southwest, a character that said “Si, Senor,” will immediately be assumed to be of Latin American heritage by your reader. Further, if you use Hispanic characters in your novel, it might be strange to never to hear a word of Spanish.

Foreign Language Adds Realism

A few foreign words will give your characters the realism you are looking for. A bit of research will help you to craft their words. Is your French speaking character from France, or is he or she from Canada or Switzerland? Learning the different nuances between dialects can add detail to your story that is undeniable. Writing that contains those kinds of details is often applauded for allowing the reader to learn something new.

Have Fun with Foreign Language

Don’t get tangled up in foreign language studies. If you have difficulty, just get what you need to enhance your story. You might have fun learning new things. If you enjoy what you find, you will probably translate your sense of interest over to your reader.