1. SingToMeMuse
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    SingToMeMuse Member

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    Dialogue: Hey Character, speak up dammit!!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by SingToMeMuse, Jun 14, 2009.

    So I am quite a beginner and am just now transitioning from plotting to actually jotting my stories down and I'm finding dialogue a bit tricky (I'm sure I'm not the only one to feel this when popping thier dialogue cherry lol).
    I think I've got a pretty good grasp on who my characters are BUT everytime they speak I feel like I'm putting the words in thier mouths. I don't feel like they are speaking for themselves and each line of dialogue, to me, just feels like generic fluff and like it's just me spitting out whatever works to get the message across...and it also sounds really cheesy. I'll fish through my work and find some examples later.
    I'm planning on doing two extensive free writes in first person for each of my characters to try and get a feel for how THEY would speak. What else do you guys do to find your characters' voices?
     
  2. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    I also had this problem. . . I eventually realised that my shortcomings in dialogue stemmed from a lack of character developement. That is, I didn't know my characters well enough to know what they would say.

    Now I make a point of getting to know everything about my character's personality before I start writing. One of the more important details, I find, is to understand how your characters perceive others, how they perceive each other. This is crucial in writing realistic responses.

    Anyway, I think if you take the time to fully realise your characters, the dialogue will have a way of writing itself. If you know your character well enough, it should be pretty obvious - in the moment - what they're going to say (and sometimes that'll be something you never anticipated when you sat down to write). Then you get a nice back-and-forth rythm going, and it's just like a game of ping pong.:)
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Dialogue is practically an art form in itself. Not only do you need well-formed characters, you need to know how to select what to say, and what not to say.

    The most compelling part of good dialogue, at least to me, is in the subtext. The subtext is the meaning that is not explcitly spoken.
    The subtext is the tension between the two characters. Kerrie is worried about something involveing a third character, and Mark is avoiding the subject. It could be a wife, or a daughter, or a coworker - we would need more context to know. Mark is changing the subject, and Kerrie isn't willing to just let it go. Her last remark is somewhat of a protest.

    It isn't intended to be a particularly profound example, but it does illustrate the concept of subtext.
     
  4. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Read the dialogue out loud. If it sounds stilted, then say what you're trying to have the character say out loud, as though you were in their situation. If it still sounds stilted, then have a friend do it.
     
  5. Tobinobin
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    Tobinobin Member

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    Dialogue

    Hey guys.

    I'm having a real problem with this. My character usually ends up sounding like an arrogant idiot, or some over-righteous fantasy character (when hes just at the age of 16 or so).

    I find it hard to create believable dialogue - it becomes a duel of words that seem pretty rubbishy for lack of a good expression.

    Ill show you what I mean:

    "A demon!" the man chuckled in surprise. "Is that what you think we are? demons? your ignorance may be excused as you are only young, but I fear your people believe the same thing. No, child. We are not demons, we are a travelling people - we come from the north."

    "Not a demon?" Turak questioned. "You have terrorised our people for generations, raping our women and destroying our camps. How could you be anything other than a devil?"

    The man glanced downwards, and started to pace. His hand rubbed his face as he struggled with his thoughts. "I do not know exactly how to tell you this, Turak. Your people have not been harassed by us, but by a group of men known as the Yakonan."

    "Yakonan?" Turak questioned. He was in complete dismay. "Who are they?"

    The man walked over to a small chair carved with mysterious runes, sat down and picked up a small pipe. Before speaking, he took a long draw, furrowing his eyebrows, deep in thought. "They are a clan that used to belong with our people. Many moons ago, they mysteriously deserted our tribe, fleeing to the kingdom that sits in the mountains. It is said that they serve an unknown master there, bidding his wishes. The earth-mother tells me that at the roots of the Yakonan sits something ancient, and evil. We travel to find better pastures for our herd, for our lands have become desolate and dead"

    Anyone know what I could do to improve the realism of my writing? also does anyone have this problem? and how do you overcome it (if you don't know, hopefully some more experienced writers can help us all here).

    Thanks!
    Tobie.
     
  6. ChaseRoberts
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    ChaseRoberts Senior Member

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    It's a bit mad, but I think from the character's POV, and speak the answer out loud that I think they'd say. Then I write it. I've had problems, weirdly enough, same as you, writing from a 17 year old boy's perspective, and this, I found, was very helpful in preventing stilted language.
     
  7. Tobinobin
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    Tobinobin Member

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    Interesting actually - I might try this. I still think it would be relatively difficult though to think up realistic dialogue.
     
  8. ChaseRoberts
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    ChaseRoberts Senior Member

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    It can actually be quite fun. Get into character. Don't just try and think like them, try and be them. Think like them, act like them, imagine you are them (although not when other people are around, obviously, or you'll end up in a nuthouse). Once you know your character, you'll be able to write what the character will say no problems.

    I do this with my characters a lot. Although I was quite weirded out by the fact that the easiest character to get into their heads was actually the sociopathic one. It did get me on the ol' wondering...:cool:
     
  9. SingToMeMuse
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    SingToMeMuse Member

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    Very intriguing suggestion ChaseRoberts. I saw a book one time for writers about how actors "get into character" and it suggested ways for writers to tap into that zone when creating characters.
     
  10. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I have actually found writing dialogue to be fairly easy... or so I think. For me, my bigger problem is framing it up. In the example provided by Cogito, Kerrie looked out the side window. precedes the words. I have a heard time thinking in action first, and this is a skill that I want to develop.

    Anyways, while I'm writing, I'm actually "watching" my characters interact. I have the setting and each character in it within my head, and then just push the "play" button. I often imagine each character's perspective on a situation, and I project into them. That way, I actually have the emotion that each is feeling in me when they speak.

    Unfortunately, by going off of direct emotion, my writing is a bit "dirty" on the first draft, and I have go back and check for consistency and word choice and complete sentences.
     

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