author C.C.Cole's blog

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On Dialogue and Dialect

Hagrid in the "Harry Potter" Series

Being from the Deep South, “dialect” is a term I became comfortable with a long time ago.  I didn’t meet many people from out of state until I was a teenager, but I’d hear on television accents and to me, most people on TV didn’t seem to have an accent unless the person was from another country.  Southern dialects on TV never sounded right to me; here we call it “the Delta drawl” where the words are rolled into several syllables instead of the flat, slow “drawl” that I grew up speaking. 

I appreciated the challenge of writing dialect when I read The Harry Potter series involving the character Hagrid.  While the actor Robbie Coltrane did a terrific job in translating the dialect to bring the character to life, reading the ‘ems, ‘nuffs, and ‘ye’s I admit made for the most tiring reading for an otherwise easy to read series.  Author J. K. Rowling wrote the dialect to make Hagrid stand out as a bit less intelligent, loyal, lovable part-giant guy. 

When I sat down to write my own story, I knew I am not ready to write dialect.  While I don’t think it is necessarily a skill for professional writers, I think some writers have a better feel for it than others.  I thought about trying to write my southern drawl in a conversation with a person from Ohio.  Nevermind. 

Writers, if you can write dialect to bring depth and description to your characters, I highly recommend it, even if it makes the read a little more challenging.  As a writer, I am a huge fan of dialogue in reading and writing.  People speak differently, and so should our characters.  But not one size fits all.  I know I’m not ready to write dialect, though I speak it all day.  To me, it’s just conversation. 


  1. I find with writing dialect, which I do often, it is easier to pick out a few words and use them consistently throughout the book. It adds the dimension without overly tiring the reader.

  2. That's a great point! Thank you for commenting!