Locale, and the dialogue that goes with it.

So I’m American but I’ve written a novel that’s told from an English MC. I realized tonight that I had to use their spelling to make it more authentic for the character, thus switching my document locale to British English.

However the MC is the only British character. The rest of the MCs speak American English. (Or pirate, because this is a pirate book.)

I’ve never really had to do this so it’s not something I know the whole answer to and that’s why I’m here. When these American characters are speaking = dialogue, do I use American spelling in the quotes? Our do I keep it british since it’s what the MC is hearing from british ears? I genuinely feel dumb. All help appreciated. :rofl:

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It shouldn’t matter what language or dialect your MC speaks. The narrator is the one that it matters for. If you are narrating it from the MC’s point of view, then you want to use the proper spelling for their dialect, but the narrator should be consistent throughout your entire story, and usually isn’t actually from any specific character’s point of view if it’s written in third person. Is your story written in first person? Then you might be able to get away with switching back and forth between dialects, but if not, then I would stay as consistent as possible and avoid switching.


If it’s from the mc’s pov than keep it all as British English.


It’s a matter of style. It’s a good idea to keep your style consistent. Stick to either British or American regardless of a specific character. Switching back and forth is quite jarring.

I’d stick to British.

Keep in mind it’s not just the spelling that changes when you switch from British to American, it’s also vocabulary, emphasis, context and sometimes syntax.

(Also isn’t pirate speak West Country?)


It is. But ill keep that in mind, thank you!

I believe so. This book is set in modern day, and the pirates travel all over the world so they’ve picked up their own little accents and kinda learn from each other? If that makes sense.

And my MC is obviously raised to be very prim and proper, so she speaks old english or close to it. But over the course of the story, she slowly picks up some vocab from the pirates the more time she spends with them.

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Now i have one more question. Ive written a blurb for this story, and i assume I’d want to stick with the same UK spelling of words in that as well? So people get the vibe? I want to be sure since I’m an american author but this entire book takes place from the POV of a female english woman.

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