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I'm not sure if any of you ever use dialect or colloquial speech in your writing, but that's periodically (not always) a literary device that I take advantage of.  And yet, because of this, I've received occasional comments about "typos" and "grammatical errors" in my work, as if I were simply being careless.  They aren't typos, and such "errors" as there may be are quite deliberate.  They all occur in characters' speech, never in in the non-speech text.

My question is, has anyone else ever dealt with this issue, and if so how did you address it?  Would it be worthwhile to add a disclaimer at the beginning, as Mark Twain did, explaining why the alternate words/spellings are used?

Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.   
 

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Don't feel badly. I received a review once from a sight challenged reviewer who uses voice recognition for the read - and when he hit a part of my work, a letter written by an illiterate street kid from Brooklyn to his folks, he took me to task for grammar and typos (I don't know how he saw the typos) and mallapropisms (which were, of course, deliberate in the letter). It was like faulting Archie Bunker or Leo Gorcey (who's he? I'm anold fart remember). We just need to recognize the fact that some reviewers (and this wasn't a reader review, it was an editorial review) arm themselves for bear and the silver spike and hammer. Of course, I usually just laugh these things off, except in this case, where the gentleman blamed my editor. Now, I'm not worth a plug nickel in defending my works. Never have and never will do it.  However, when it comes to casting a shadow over my hard working editor who works with a passion and for little else, I would't stand for it. I risked losing all my five star reviews with that particular reviewing house and went to war until the reviewer pulled the note out blaming my editor. The rest I let stand as the foibles of the computer voice age. Have an opinion about me — fine. But say one word against my editor and I'll risk the house for the mortgage.

Edward C. Patterson
Once known as the Typo-Queen, but now have been demoted to Typo-Baroness and heading for Typo-commoner, thank God. Who was that guy that said something about casting the first rock? ;D
 
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bluearkansascowboy said:
I'm not sure if any of you ever use dialect or colloquial speech in your writing, but that's periodically (not always) a literary device that I take advantage of. And yet, because of this, I've received occasional comments about "typos" and "grammatical errors" in my work, as if I were simply being careless. They aren't typos, and such "errors" as there may be are quite deliberate. They all occur in characters' speech, never in in the non-speech text.

My question is, has anyone else ever dealt with this issue, and if so how did you address it? Would it be worthwhile to add a disclaimer at the beginning, as Mark Twain did, explaining why the alternate words/spellings are used?

Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.
I have caught a lot of flack about this too. And my book (as yours) has deliberate misspellings in the "Quoted" conversations. However, there is nothing we can do about it... Remember that we cannot control who reads our work, and everyone who does is not necessarily able to determine that we intentionally have a character use "slang" or even "words that don't exist in the English language.

I had a woman in NC leave me a 1-star review claiming such errors.

MY ADVICE: Don't sweat it. You know what they say - "Bad Publicity is Good Publicity". My sales went up 15x what they were before she left all the "Bad Publicity".
 

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Does have a way of closing out threads.
 

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<moderator mode on>

Folks, please: as we have requested before: What happens on the forums on the Amazon site stays there.

Thank you.

 

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Discussion Starter #8
I agree that pointing out editorial and proofreading mistakes is a perfectly valid point to make in a review. . . there are books I've read that were dreadful in that respect, and that needs to be mentioned and hopefully corrected. 

But that really wasn't what I was talking about.  What I was discussing was the specific, limited situation when people mistake deliberate deviations for careless errors, and what, if anything, could be done to help the situation.  That's why I asked about whether it might be worthwhile to include a disclaimer or a note on language or something of that kind.  I was looking for a way to help readers avoid misunderstanding, not carping about a review I didn't like.

 

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bluearkansascowboy said:
I agree that pointing out editorial and proofreading mistakes is a perfectly valid point to make in a review. . . there are books I've read that were dreadful in that respect, and that needs to be mentioned and hopefully corrected.
In all seriousness, I have all sorts of deliberate mispellings for fun, for effect and for accents and I never make disclaimers. I have mentioned them here from time to time, but I don't believe a formal disclaimer is necessary as I continue to sell books with little or no mention of them. I have my fair share of actual typos which I try very hard to correct everywhere I find them. It seems they are endless. :( But perseverance will get you everywhere. I say, don't make a disclaimer. The readers are generally intelligent enough to know what you are doing and can tell the difference between good writing and accidents.
 

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bluearkansascowboy said:
I agree that pointing out editorial and proofreading mistakes is a perfectly valid point to make in a review. . . there are books I've read that were dreadful in that respect, and that needs to be mentioned and hopefully corrected.

But that really wasn't what I was talking about. What I was discussing was the specific, limited situation when people mistake deliberate deviations for careless errors, and what, if anything, could be done to help the situation. That's why I asked about whether it might be worthwhile to include a disclaimer or a note on language or something of that kind. I was looking for a way to help readers avoid misunderstanding, not carping about a review I didn't like.
Sorry, Blue....I got distracted.

My answer to your question is "No."

The reason is that if a reader doesn't understand the difference, putting a 'warning' in there will not make them understand.

I read your book, and I am a stickler for good grammar, spelling, etc., so I can honestly say that your writing speaks for itself.
 

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Brendan Carroll said:
In all seriousness, I have all sorts of deliberate misspellings for fun, for effect and for accents and I never make disclaimers. I have mentioned them here from time to time, but I don't believe a formal disclaimer is necessary as I continue to sell books with little or no mention of them. I have my fair share of actual typos which I try very hard to correct everywhere I find them. It seems they are endless. :( But perseverance will get you everywhere. I say, don't make a disclaimer. The readers are generally intelligent enough to know what you are doing and can tell the difference between good writing and accidents.
Buuuut, Mr. Carroll, your misspelled words are your characters "in character" Scottish brogue, Italian and Irishman's way of speaking NOT really misspelled words :-\... and if you say typos are endless, I don't think they are in YOUR books, as I have read the first 11 of the series, and several other works of yours and there are very few that I could mention in the gazillion words I have read of your works. Yours are for emphasis... to let us know how these guys/gals/creatures talk... I believe the other posts refer to bad grammar and real spelling errors... not what you have going on in your books AT ALL. :-\
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Brendan and Red, after thinking about it I'm sure you're both correct.  So I think I'll just let it slide and ignore comments like that unless I'm specifically asked.

Thanks for the feedback; y'all always have something useful and constructive to say.
 

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RedAdept said:
My answer to your question is "No."

The reason is that if a reader doesn't understand the difference, putting a 'warning' in there will not make them understand.

I read your book, and I am a stickler for good grammar, spelling, etc., so I can honestly say that your writing speaks for itself.
I think this is right. If readers are generally not 'getting' that you're using dialect or misspellings for some particular effect, well, then you're not achieving your goal. You shouldn't have to tell them why you're using a certain style. Of course, some readers might just be thick, but if pretty much no one gets what you're doing, it's not working and you should re-think the strategy.
 

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I have a difficulty in reading stuff written in "dialect" or written so that it would sound like someone's accent if read aloud, but I've never considered them typos.  However, I could understand some people who don't think aurally, or on the other hand use the TTS feature, might think they were mistakes.  My advice re: reviews is to remember that they are just one person's opinion and try not to take them too hard. 
 

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I think any good author knows that he has his/her own story to tell and has to adhere to their own personal taste in telling their stories. At the same time, the goal is to use language well (this means adhering to the rules of grammar and spelling unless there is a worthy reason for deviation). When an author is true to his/her vision, there will be people who cannot comprehend this vision. So be it. Style and substance are not always the same thing. At the same time, this is not an excuse to cut corners and avoid using the established forms of our language to tell good stories.
 

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I'm old fashioned (anachronistic even), but I believe an author must engage the reader. If being true to one's style, vernacular or artisitic innovation disengages the reader (and I don't mean some critic a la Starry Vere), then a novel becomes a one-way street. I beleive it tkes two to tango when it comes to a novel, and I am only half of the the equation.

Edward C. Patterson
 

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Y'know, Blue, you're right. Most people don't speak with perfect grammar, and it would be unrealistic to expect that all dialogue be written in perfect form. Dialect gives the reader further immersion in the scene--it helps the reader 'hear' the voice of the character. However, I agree with Kevis concerning the importance of proper mechanics in non-dialogue portions of a manuscript. I also agree with Ed--if the dialect is distracting, or if peculiarities of 'style' interfere with the reader's ability to enjoy the story, then both are a liability. 

I dislike dialect unless it is done sparingly and well. It interrupts the flow if heavy-handed. I find inept mechanics (grammar, punctuation, spelling, and so on) distracting in the extreme and will not read a poorly-edited manuscript to completion.

Typos, REAL typos (such as misplacing or duplicating the occasional letter) are true typing errors and are particularly difficult to spot. They don't concern me if they are few and far between. There's a big difference between a few typos and failure to edit.  ;)
 

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Edward C. Patterson said:
I'm old fashioned (anachronistic even), but I believe an author must engage the reader. If being true to one's style, vernacular or artisitic innovation disengages the reader (and I don't mean some critic a la Starry Vere), then a novel becomes a one-way street. I beleive it tkes two to tango when it comes to a novel, and I am only half of the the equation.

Edward C. Patterson
The two words 'information' and 'communication' are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.
Sydney J. Harris
Effective conversation (communication) is a conversation in which no one gets confused by the other person's MEANING. When people (both the speaker or the listener) don't use proper communication skills, the other person can be unsure of the speaker's meaning. There can be many reasons for not understanding their meaning. The Kings Calendar

I think you could replace speaker and listener with writer and reader in the above quote. If the reader does not get the writer's meaning, communication does not occur. The writer is giving out information, but not communicating with the reader. So Ed, I agree with you all the way. If the reader is not engaged by the writer, then comminication (and good reading) do not happen.
 

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I'm a fan of the way that Asimov handled situations like this.

Here's a direct quote from Foundation,

Lord Dorwin took snuff. He also had long hair, curled intricately and, quite obviously, artificially, to which were added a pair of fluffy, blond sideburns, which he fondled affectionately. Then, too, he spoke in an overprecise statements and left out all the r's.

This later sets up the characters way of speaking not much farther into the chapter. It makes it clear later that it's not a mistake when the character says, "Ah, Hahdin. You ah looking foah us, no doubt," or when he states, "A gweat achievement, this Encyclopedia of yoahs, Hahdin. A feat, indeed, to rank with the most majestic accomplishments of all time."

The only time he breaks out of that r's 'rule' is for the word rank...which has a fairly obvious explanation ;)

To me working it into the story as a short bit of expository works since it helps explain the character of the man, and not just as a pure setup for the language :)
 
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