1. Yitz
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    Yitz Member

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    Dialogue - schizophrenia versus reality

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Yitz, Apr 1, 2009.

    Greetings!

    I've been working on my short story, and I've been trying hard to get some realistic dialogue into it.
    Sometimes when I reread my dialogue, I feel like I'm talking to myself
    in my head. It sounds like me talking to me, rather than character A talking
    to character B. So how do you lose your idiosyncrasies and mannerisms when you write dialogue? How do you keep it from sounding like one person doing all the talking, just under different names?
    What is it that makes characters just feel different from each other on paper?
    thanks

    Yitz
     
  2. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Hang out at a store, or a mall or ride a city bus all day. Listen to the people talking to each other. What makes each one of them different?

    Another part of the answer to your question is knowing your characters -- being able to crawl inside their heads and see the world (and the other characters) through their eyes.

    Read, read, read. See how other people do it.
     
  3. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Try to better define who your characters are, and what they stand for. Use this information as a tool to make appropriate responses during dialogue.
     
  4. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I'd agree with what Dcoin said. Try to really get into your characters' heads. If you need to, do some really intense first person background stories on each one that way you can learn their individual quirks inside and out. Once you do that, it may help you know what one character is likely to say and what the other one won't say under any circumstance.
     
  5. chandler245
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    chandler245 Banned

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    I agree as well with lynneandlynn, I have also found that if I use my self and how I may react to a question, comment or statement that I will put that in my book as well. I also wrote in my journal-write down before I foget book the quailities that I want my charaters (sorry about spelling had surgery and my brain is fuzzy) to have. I found that at times talking to myself and acting out what the scene is and would sound like helps as well. I hope this will help some way to anyone. By the way I also want to say thank you to all of you on this forum. I had no idea that you could learn so much.
     
  6. bluejt2000
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    bluejt2000 Member

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    As others have said - know thy characters.

    If they're major characters do thorough biographies for them, including their background, education, upbringing, etc. Not that you'll want to use all of that, but you need to get to know these people thoroughly enough to know they'll react to any given situation - and when characters speak they always - or at least ought to - do so in reaction to something, whether it be another person's speech, action, or a certain situation.

    Different speech patterns are simply to do with word choice and the arrangement of words into sentences. Think what words and syntax a character with the background and personality you've chosen would use use.

    Include a personality section in your bio. Is this person nervous, confident, shy, extroverted, quick-tempered, easy-going, etc.? All these things will affect how a how he or she speaks.

    As you write, think of people you know who have similar personalities. How would they express themselves in situations such as those your characters find themselves in? What words would they use, etc.?

    John
     
  7. Aeroflot
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    Aeroflot Senior Member

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    Pretend you're a valley girl or some other stereotype, write like you were one of them, and once you get the idea of writing like someone else, then try to imagine being the person your character is. Chances are your character is going to be based upon a pre-existing personality type, so that makes it easier to predict how your character will act.
     
  8. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    I find it's best to start off with a template, and then hone your character around that. For example, try categorizing people you know into "broad generalizations". I know we're all told not to do that, but the fact of the matter is it's pretty darn easy. Classifications like "the nerd" or "the jock" or "the valley girl" or "the stoner" all exist because, lets be honest, some people really fall quite nicely into stereotypes. Nobody is the same, but at the broadest level everyone can be categorized.

    Once you've picked a category, do the character bio and really start getting into what makes them tick. Why are they that kind of person? What makes them unique? How do they view the world and react to it? At that point, I encourage you to kind of imagine your characters going around with you during your day. As stuff happens to you, try to imagine how your characters would react to it, individually, and together. This helps them come to life, and gives you a chance to get to know them.

    As creepy as it sounds, well-developed characters should exist in your head almost as if they are separate entities. You're the one they selected to tell their story, and they'll get rather upset at you if you slack off. :rolleyes: That being said, they can also become friends. If you ever had imaginary friends as a child, you know that it's possible. As a writer, you sort of have an excuse to have them again. I find myself imagining some of my characters hanging out with me, and although I sometimes feel a bit crazy for doing so, I find it really gives me the opportunity to "get to know them". Now if I can only finish my novel before they ship me off to the loony bin.... :D
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Or hang out in a voice chat like Paltalk.com

    Take notes.

    Some people say man, some say dude, some say oh, boy, or oh, brother, or geez, or God, or gawd. I think you only have to stylize each character a bit. A little goes a long way.

    Think of different ways people say things.

    "Hey, let's rent that new flick, umm, Revolver. Yeah, that's it. Looks mad crazy."

    "How about we go rent that new movie Revolver. I heard it's good."

    "Let's rent Revovler. Heard it's good."

    "Yo, that movie Revovler looks phat. Let's rent it."

    "Maybe we could rent Revovler tonight? It got good reviews."

    "Man, we should rent Revovler. It's got guns and s*** in it."

    There are many ways different people would say the same thing.
     
  10. Yitz
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    Yitz Member

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    Hey folks,


    thanks for the ideas! All the books I've read cover dialogue at some level,
    however they really don't tell you how to make it sound multi-personal instead
    of inner-personal (not interpersonal. ;) )
    I'll give these a shot, and post the first part of the story in the review room at
    some point to let you all see it and critique it.
    thanks again,

    Yitz
     
  11. PS Foster
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    PS Foster Member

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    Well, I'm kind of schizo anyway, but when writing dialog I read it back to myself out loud to get a feel of how it would sound. Sometimes what looks good on paper doesn't sound right when read aloud.
     

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