The question I have is related to dialect, and what level is comfortable to read. On a scale of plain English at one end, and Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting at the other, does the following sample scan well or pose too many stumbling blocks for people.
The title of the MS is: The Pricking of Thumbs
Final word-count: 100,000. Genre: YA spec fic
This sample is from about half-way through.
Tog started hitching Jumbo and El Grande to the wagons as we hitched
mine to the back of a tractor. I noticed Sparrow was looking at me
“You’re a mad bugger, in’t yer. Runnin’ off inter the teeth o’ battle.”
“My life isn’t worth nuffink. I’m goin’ ter die anyway, Sparrow.
That’s the truth of it. But I couldn’t have bullets whizzin’ around
‘urtin’ you or the elephants or the freaks if I could stop it, could
She give me another funny look. “Yer not goin’ ter die. Not if I got
anyfink to do wiv it.”
“So, do you want ter ‘ear my plan then?”
“I got certain chemicals what I can put inter the Patronne’s food
what’ll put ‘im asleep fer a good long while. That’s when you and me
do a runner.”
“Anywhere you fancy. I ‘eard New Aberdeen’s gettin’ big and they
need workers. We could earn some scratch, buy some forest and build
ourselves a little ‘ouse.”
Ben, I didn’t have any trouble understanding the dialect but to be honest I found myself focussing on making sure I got the meaning right and this took me out of the actual story.
I also wonder if the dialect is necessary. Your dialogue without the dialect would be quite strong and If your story is set in a world you are creating then you can give your characters any distinguishing features you want.
One of the problems with dialect is keeping it all consistent and sustaining it for an entire story. For example if your character is a letter dropper would they say ‘you an me’ instead of ‘you and me’. This is the kind of thing you will have to grapple with through the entire manuscript.
This is completely your choice but if it were me I would try and show the character’s personalities and motives etc through the words they choose instead of dialect. You can also strengthen the dialogue with actions and body language.
I hope this helps. If anyone has thoughts or suggestions for Ben, please feel free to leave them in the ‘comments’ section of this post.
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Please include the genre of the work, the word count for the entire piece, an indication of where the piece comes in your story and any specific questions you have.