1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    How to write a speech

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Lea`Brooks, Apr 24, 2014.

    Hello all!

    So the novel I'm writing starts off at a political rally. My MC's dad is giving a speech against a group of people, and I'm struggling to write it. This is how I want it to go:

    "Monsters are infesting our country."
    Brief paragraph on the surroundings
    "They're enrolling in our schools." Crowd reaction. "They're stealing our jobs." Crowd reaction. "They're marrying our daughters." Crowd reaction.

    At a political rally, the crowd often cheers or boos after every sentence the politician says. I want the reader to understand that that is happening, so I don't want the reaction to be too long and take away from the speech. I just want a simple "The crowd grunts their agreement" without it sounding too repetitive or... elementary, I guess. I want it to feel real. And I don't know how to do that. :\

    Should I just write the whole paragraph and mention that the crowd punctuated every sentence with a murmur of agreement? Or should I try to add the cheers after each sentence? Is what I'm saying even making any sense? lol

    If you have any examples from professional works, I'd love to read them. I tried to Google it, but all I got was information on how to write a political speech in real life, not how to write reactions to them in a novel.. I'm stuck. :(


    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    try it both ways and see which you like best...

    i would suggest you make the responses more visual than just 'they cheer/boo' whatever... and include some body language of the speaker, as well, so the reader will 'be there' and be emotionally invested in what the speech is addressing...
     
  3. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Okay, what you're doing is ladling in the backstory in the form of a speech. And an info-dump is always a bad idea. After all, the reader didn't ask to go to a political rally. They're with you to be entertained, not informed. They want something other than a talking head.

    By starting with a speech by someone we know nothing about, given for purposes we're unsure of, at a time and place, and in a society we don't know, you kill all the uncertainty of what will happen next that is at the core of a reader's interest. They want to be made to want to know what happens next.

    For a reader, wouldn't it be more interesting is you opened with something like:

    "So how did the speech go, Davis?"

    He shook his head, wishing he had better news. "I gave them both barrels. I talked about the stupidity of ____ (fill in the blank) and I thought I had them, but..." he sighed, then spread his hands in a "what can you do" gesture.

    Not your character or story, but presented that way we get the essence of the speech without having to sit through it, and the result of having given it from the protagonist's viewpoint, which is a lot more interesting than political rhetoric.

    Hit the ground running when you open a story. Toss a flaming bottle of gasoline into the crowd ten seconds after he starts talking. Have someone whisper, "They're in the hallway outside," into his ear and let us see him drop his jaw, then turn and run. Make something happen so he can react, evaluate, plan, and DO. Readers are looking to be entertained. And damn few political speeches are entertaining.

    Hell, in my last release the poor heroine finds her kitchen destroyed and her boyfriend chopped up and stuffed in her refrigerator on page three. Isn't that likely to be a better hook than a political speech?

    “Don’t inflict the reader with irrelevant background material—get on with the story.”
    ~ James H. Schmitz
     
  4. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am throwing a flaming bottle of gasoline into the crowd after he starts. Not ten seconds after, but close enough. And not a flaming bottle of gasoline, but a smoke bomb. It's a rally against a group of people, who then crash the rally and start a riot. I'm not planning on making the speech too long. Just enough feel in the middle of it before the riot starts.

    Thanks for the advice both of you. I'll try showing more than telling, though I don't really know how that would work with the cheering.. I'll figure it out though, I guess.

    Thanks again.
     

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