1. canis-lupus-7
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    canis-lupus-7 New Member

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    How to NOT sound like I'm trying to hard.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by canis-lupus-7, Jun 12, 2010.

    I'm in the process of writing a story set a few months before the stock market crash in 1929. However, I seem to be having a problem with the way my characters are speaking. I want them to sound like they are from the '20s, but I seem to be trying to hard because the way they speak sounds terribly cliche. I'm turning what would be good dialog into a big wad of campy awfulness. So my question is, does anyone have any advice on keeping my dialog from sounding to modern but at the same time keep it from sounding like I'm trying way to hard? Also, does anyone have any family members or stories told by these family members from that era that might be useful in helping me capture the culture of the 1920s? Any internet resources would be great as well.Thanks!!!!
     
  2. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I'm checking out British social history I go to Pathe Newsreels. They go back more than 100yrs. There is a lot of reporting about America and the Dominions as well, so you can hear a variety of accents. Have you listened to e.g. the reporting on the Hindenburg disaster? These kind of things all give you a feel for the speech of the era.
     
  3. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    Best help I can give you is listen to how they speak in the movie Cinderella Man (2005). It was set both before and through the great depression, so it ought to give you an idea of how people spoke back then. Hearing them speak ought to help you distinguish between what is over done and what would be natural. Of course, the characters are from New York, so keep the accent in mind.

    Plus, its a great movie!
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    As one possible information source, try _Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's_, by Frederick Allan. Now, _it_ was apparently written in 1931, so it's not going to make comparisons to modern day details, but it does offer a lot of specific details about life in the 20s, and the major events of the decade.

    For dialogue, I'd recommend reading reasonably well-regarded popular novels from the teens, twenties, and thirties, at least to get an initial baseline.

    ChickenFreak
     
  5. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    Unless you lived in the twenties, you wouldn't know what people sounded like back in that time period. My advice would be to write it using todays langauge, the only exception would be to avoid abbreviations and slang.

    You could try reading books from that time period, but my guess would be that only rich people could get books and stories published therefore it's going to sound overly posh and fake in regards to common langauge.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    read works written then and download screenplays set in that era...
     
  7. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I second this.
    For a very long time, writing was an exercise limited to the wealthy. Much of what you'll find will have been penned by the upper classes and, in many cases, for the upper classes. Bear this in mind as you research and try to get a feel for all levels of society.

    Personally, I would suggest immersing yourself in the culture, not simply reading history books (although I certainly recommend reading those as well). Seek out newspapers, newsreels, magazines, movies, music, fiction, photographs. Immerse yourself in the 1920s to the point that their language, mannerisms, and trends feel like a second language to you. Then you won't feel like you're trying hard because you aren't. You'll be fluent in it... or at least as fluent as a twenty-first century gal can reasonably be.
     
  8. canis-lupus-7
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    canis-lupus-7 New Member

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    Thanks so much for all of the advice!!!
     

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