The Horror of Dialect

In a creative writing class I had several years ago, the teacher cautioned against writing in dialect.  The irony was that at the same time I was taking an Advanced Placement English class that assigned several books written in that particular style. Throughout high school and subsequently college I have periodically read books written in dialect, and I can see why it isn’t common place anymore.

“There Eyes Were Watching God” is often hailed as a classic, and assigned in classrooms all across the country.  I struggled to get through it, I could barely make out what the characters were saying.  I love reading, obviously since I’m a writer, but reading books written entirely or mostly in dialect is an insurmountable challenge for me.  I can figure it out, but my brain wants to fix the words which means it makes reading slow.

Authors are called to “show nor tell” in their stories, and writing in dialect is one way to accomplish that.  To me, though this shows the pitfalls of relying too heavily on showing and not implementing it wisely.  Sometimes, writing short bursts of dialogue, such as a few lines, might be a creative way to show a character’s accent.  Writing an entire book that way is clunky.  That isn’t me saying I claim to be a better writer than these classical authors, but I share this perspective to let others know that if they feel the same, they aren’t alone.  If you are like me, then dialect can be not only clunky, but distracting from the overall plot.  Thank goodness it is a product of the past.

Benefits of Fiction

I have written before on fiction and why I write it.  You can read about my thoughts on why I write fantasy specifically here.   I also think it is important to note the benefits of fiction, especially speculative fiction.

Some may say that fairy-tales, fantasy, and other fiction is a waste of time.  These people assert that reading what is real is the only thing worth reading at all.  I disagree.  Fantasy explores difficult areas of life from the comfort of a fictional setting.  More importantly I feel that fantasy opens a door in the mind to realize there are things beyond our current understanding.

We only know so much about the world, and are only capable of studying it so far.  Science is a wonderful and useful method, but there are limits to the scientific method.  The beauty of fantasy is that it can fill in those areas with imagination and tell a deep and fulfilling tale.  Fantasy has the chance to delve into the areas we don’t understand and search metaphorically for questions such as what is the meaning of life, what is reality, and is there ever a time for war?

I feel that fantasy can be just as important and compelling as nonfiction.  I do not deny the importance of reality, but many times perception and worldview puts a spin on it.  So even if something is “nonfiction” it can still have untrue or warped information. Fiction isn’t true, it doesn’t even pretend to be true, and that is the beauty of it.  Fantasy delivers truth in the package of make-believe and doesn’t need to be bothered as much by worldview and tainted glasses.