1. jpaulsnow
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    jpaulsnow New Member

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    Darned teenagers!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jpaulsnow, Mar 31, 2010.

    I am presently writing a novel, and am having some serious problems with the self-creating character dialogue process.

    The issue for me is that I must have 5 young boys (hush now, Oscar Wilde) who are the victims of 4 antagonizing peers of a prestigious all boys school. The setting is 1988 and the "true to life" dialogue is just terrible.

    I am writing true to the characters and what they would say "IRL", but from my distorted perspective (author/too close to the project) I fear the dialogue alone is a major turn off to a would be reader.

    Unfortunately telling the tale of the bullying at the museum is vital to the entire plot of the story, but I'll be damned if every time I try to rewrite those pesky teenagers don't start flapping their sassy yaps and snapping "momma jokes" at each other over my otherwise interesting story.

    Now I know how those timid old men felt in my youth as I mocked their supposed elder status and defied their wishes.

    Any pointers out there?
     
  2. Jonesy
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    Jonesy Member

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    Me and my mates don't talk all that differently from adults. I would despise reading a novel featuring teenagers where the dialogue is not how we speak, but how "adults" think we speak.

    My advice for you is to jsut write relaxed conversation.
     
  3. bruce
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    bruce Active Member

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    You could see how other authors write such dialogue.

    I recall reading "Lord of the Flies" where the main characters are boys. See how Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding does it.
     
  4. jpaulsnow
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    jpaulsnow New Member

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    Not a bad idea.

    Any notable authors come to mind who mastered the art of characters speaking in foreign accents without "Boocherink dee enkleesh lankwage"?
     
  5. bruce
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    bruce Active Member

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    There are many. This depends on the language and culture. For example, Rudyard Kipling's novels set in India could be worth reading. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Also, you can try V.S. Naipaul who also won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

    What's important is that you still write the dialogue in English but vary the word order. To do this you just translate the native language straight into English. That's just one way to handle dialogue with foreign accents. It may or may not work since a direct translation could be meaningless. As the author you can tinker with the sentence until it makes sense for your novel.

    Watch National Geographic TV programs that feature foreigners speaking in English to get an idea.

    I gotta go. I have to start revising my first draft novel very soon.:D
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Take a few meals at a pizza restaurant where teens hang out, or bowling alleys, pool halls, places where you'll find both teens and adults. Take your time there, and keep your ears open.

    The best way to learn dialogue is by listening. Pay attention to slang words, words left out of sentences, any distinctive usage. Don't get hung up on pronunciation quirks - for the most part, phonetic rendering of words should be avoided.
     
  7. Heather
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    Heather Contributing Member

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    I agree with this; I don't think we particularly talk any differently to how an adult conversation would sound. Perhaps, in my case at least, I use more swear words than a typical adult may, but other than that I'd say it was pretty similar.

    AND, as a side note, boys never seem to think that "your mam" jokes get old. I hear them all the time still at college.
    "What were you doing last night, Williamson?"
    "Your mam"
    Pathetic, but funny :$
     
  8. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmmm I'd beg to differ on teenagers speaking like adults. I grew up in the 80s/90s and I think the only bit of slang in my vocabulary was 'cool.' Nowadays I can't get over the litany of weird and wonderful descriptions teenagers come out with for the most mundane scenarios. I think text and internet speak has contributed towards this surge in slang.

    I think, though, that in the 1800s teenage boys would have been expected to act like mini adults anyway so you're probably fine to make them sound like Little Lord Fauntleroys.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I missed the 1988 reference. Check out teen-oriented movies from that period and listen to the dialogue in them. Start with John Hughes movies from the mid to late 1980s (e.g. Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off) and take it from there. Don't limit yourself to one writer or director, though, and look foir films based in the same parts of the country or world as your story's setting.
     
  10. Strawberry Kitten
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    Strawberry Kitten New Member

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    Have a look at some teenage movies around the time of 1988.
     
  11. jpaulsnow
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    jpaulsnow New Member

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    This only served to remind me how out of touch with reality most 80's directors/writers were when it came to teen dialogue.

    Unfortunately I don't think kids sit around having existential conversations like most of Hughes' films depict. More likely he's saying what they're thinking, and they can relate to it, but the most dramatic things I remember happening in a mixed group were cracking jokes/fighting, and gossiping about everyone.

    Perhaps I hung out with shallow people.
     
  12. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    Probably the biggest thing would be the slang they used then as opposed to now. Slang words and their usage change. A lot.
     

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