1. TkTish
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    TkTish Member

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    Style Contractions Depending on PoV

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TkTish, Apr 7, 2016.

    In my current story, the point of view (3rd limited) sometimes switches between the two main characters (like chapter one is from one characters PoV, chapter two is from the other).

    Character A is a commoner who uses contractions when he talks, so the narrative would have contractions when it is written from his PoV, right? While Character B is royalty who doesn't speak using contractions, so his narrative would be written without them. The problem is when Character B starts talking more informally later in the story. Would the way his scenes are written change to be similar to Character A (with contractions)? Or would it stay contraction-free just because that's how it had been written through most of the story already?

    Though the PoV switches through the story, about 80% of it will be from Character B's PoV.

    Or I can just say screw it, let them both talk using contractions, and just have Character B word things differently/continue acting like his royal self.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it's possible to eliminate the contraction/no-contraction thing as a differentiator between these two, I would do so. I would find it irritating, and I would also feel the urge to demand proof that only commoners use contractions, because I'm feeling some doubt about that.

    Also, is the whole story in past tense? That is, when Character B is presumably writing about what he's done, is he writing from a point in time that's beyond the end of the story? If so, then his narrative shouldn't change, though his dialogue should.
     
  3. TkTish
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    TkTish Member

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    Yeah, after thinking it over, I'm scrapping that whole idea. Easier to just write normally and easier for the reader. But thanks!
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I like it when, in a close POV, different character points of view are written with different "voices." For more distant POVs it doesn't really matter.
     
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  5. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    A better way to signify the difference is to look at their dialect, not something like contractions, and that stuff is helpful for character too. The second the reader knows who's talking a mechanical indicator of voice achieves nothing what so ever. It's not informing the character and it's actively hurting the flow of the text and that's a no-no. Certainly make their voices different but it's a better idea to make actually different voices than artificially constrain them like that. Posh people use contractions plenty.
     
  6. TkTish
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    TkTish Member

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    Yeah, I wrote out a quick scene between the two characters for myself and I can definitely make them different from each other without making it too "mechanical." :agreed: A prince compared to a street rat definitely talk differently!
     
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  7. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    It wasn't POV, so the narrative didn't stop using them, but I did have a character or two who spoke like that. However, those characters weren't human, and the lack of contractions was a hint at that for one, and I believe the others were for emphasis. I think having the narrative stop when in that POV using them would be a little annoying after a while, especially when they're still human and would logically still use contractions.
     
  8. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    I've got a semi-related question, since I'm here: I have two MCs who speak different languages, but who know a common tongue (Imperial). The first one is fluent - she talks normally - but the other isn't very good with languages, so when he speaks Imperial, it's a little stilted and he doesn't use contractions. Would this be annoying, or would it make sense?
     
  9. TkTish
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    I have actually read a story like this. While the non-native speaker is good with the second language, he doesn't speak in contractions (saying that it's undignified when another character mentions that he'd sound more natural if he used them). The other main character in the story uses contractions. It works very well for the story.

    I, personally, wouldn't mind if your character talked in a stilted way because there is a reason for it (he isn't good with the language).
     
  10. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    It would probably make sense, but as an expat English teacher, let me tell you that use of contractions says very little about language ability. Speakers who have a better command of the language will have a better sense of which to use when, but people right on the edge of 'functional' English will use them more, if anything, and mostly incorrectly.
    The only time that kind of contractionless speech would make sense to me is the language has really strange and complicated rules for how to use them, which honestly goes against the entire of contractions.
    "Don't you see what it is I'm saying?" being changed to "Do you not see what I am saying?" doesn't make the speaker sound like they're bad with languages at all.
    "You don't seeing what I'm said?" is far, far more credible.
    Then, it's harder to read and I'm an outlier in both knowing and caring about this stuff, so my opinion might be kinda worthless.
     

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