When writing dialogue how should one tackle accents? Changing the spelling for certain words (V for W in German) is effective but may come off a little cheesy.
Then again, not doing this might cause the writer to remind the reader of the character's accent through narration more than would otherwise be necessary.

1 Answer 1


It depends on the genre you're writing. A whimsical fantasy story would depict a drunken dwarf blacksmith's manner of speech in the dialog:

"Aye stringbean, Oi'll sharpen 'nat old stabber yeh got there fer a couple 'a silver. Whaddaya shay?"

Overuse of this style can become obnoxious really quick, especially if the reader has to slow down or strain to understand it.

Whereas a more serious story would indicate the accent through dialog tags and grammatical queues:

"Tell us where is the drop zone," the Kommandant whispered into his captive’s ear, his sharp accent butchering the words as they came out. "Tell us, and no harm will come to your men. I swear it."

Full disclosure: I am not a fantasy writer and my dwarvish vernacular is a bit rusty

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    Yes, I'd say this is it exactly. You can tag it in the tag, "Sure enough," her words like honey in their slow southern drawl, or in the dialog itself: "Sho 'nuff." The different approaches have different effects. You can mix and match, too.
    – SFWriter
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 1:33
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    Agreed. You can also say something like: "Sure enough," though it sounded more like "Sho 'nuff" in her southern drawl. You only want to do this once in a while as it will get old fast.
    – Cyn
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 4:12
  • Thanks all. I’ll bear that in mind. Commented May 6, 2019 at 14:37
  • If you have further questions or feel like the answer is incomplete I'd be happy to elaborate or try to help Commented May 6, 2019 at 17:04
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    I think under that circumstance, it would make sense to spell his dialog as he pronounces it - as you have described. I wouldn't recommend this in a book about people going to Germany, but it works fine for a book where nobody has any idea what a German is. Commented May 28, 2019 at 18:15

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