Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Agatha Christie, Feb 16, 2012.
When it comes to dialogue you can make up your own rules more or less.
NOTE THE APOSTROPHE
This is fine. Look at a western novel, you will find slang in most pieces of dialogue.
From your suggestions, 'sorta' rather than 'sort o' - but there are lots of other possibilities, and difficult to know what might be best without further context. You say you want to leave the phrase as it is, and that is quite formal - so perhaps it is fine as it is, if that's just the way the character speaks or if e.g. the intention is for the character to sound a bit patronising or condescending. To make it more casual, could just have a little question at the end "it's one of those big shiny ones with spots... y'know?", "...a hyperspherical contusion network, yeah?", etc. Or just make whatever the statement is, then the blank 'response' draws further comment "C'mon you must know, man. One of those things..." Play the scene in your head and go with whatever the character comes out with
How about changing it around completely?
"You've gotta know what I mean"
That's sorta that same thing, just a little different.
...you must know the sort of thing I mean...
My thought is that when people are talking casually we often leave words out, like the word must. ...you know the sorta' thing I mean...
Oh and I think it should be sorta' - I suppose the other wouldn't confuse me but it seems strange.
I also like the suggestion quincarroll made. "You've gotta know what I mean"
yes, in dialog, people often say sorta and gotta and hafta, but i agree that sort o' wouldn't work...
Ugh...Agatha...I despise that type of phrase. Personally, in conversation, I intentionally and consciously don't say any phrases that include things like "you know what I mean?" or "ya know?" One person I was chatting with once, because I could only stand her for that long, said "ya know" every few sentences, like a nervous tick. It drove me bonkers. On top of the fact that she said it much the way Sarah Palin says it, with that slight Alaskan accent. The thing that bugs me most, is that people who say that phrase often tend to be the worst at painting a clear picture about anything, and it's very likely "I don't know" what the heck they are talking about.
I look at that phrase as a type of filler phrase within social interaction. The more insecure a person is the more likely they are going to say things like "ya know" because they are looking for agreement from the other person as a way to reassure themselves that they are "okay." I avoid filler phrases in my dialog, unless they are specific to a character's traits and patterns of speech.
The first thing, Agatha, that you want to look at is if this phrase of dialog is even needed. Is it characteristically applicable to the character speaking it? Or is it a filler phrase that could be easily cut and nothing is lost from the conversation? If you're going to use it, use "sorta" if it fits the character's accent. I have very little of an accent, I just speak a little faster, but living in northern New England, I have developed the habit of dropping parts of words off, gotta, sorta, 'cause, yeah, and various words that tend to blend together, like "Wellyeah, you gotta go." Well and yeah are said as one word, more like 'llya, just the L sound and a yeah at the end.
The one thing I try to always remember is that speech reflects thought. How a person speaks is telling of how they think. If they speak in confusing patterns or logical patterns then their thinking will likely reflect that. This is part of the reason I run through dialog out loud and sometimes record it to listen to it back and see if it sounds good. Just reading out loud gives me a chance to fix things as I'm reading and I get hung up on words or phrases.
thanks to all. I think I'll stick with 'sorta'
you could try 'kinda'.
Instead of 'kind of'
How about 'kinda' which is often used as a casual 'kind of'. '....you must know the kinda thing I mean...'
Great minds think alike! (Fools seldom differ)
Oh dear, what are we? fools or great? :/
I'm going with great, those who know me will probably differ!
Sort of is already rather informal. Kinda would also work.
"Sorta" is fine. At times I wonder about how much dialogue should be written with informal contractions and elision in mind. Ultimately I don't go too overboard. It might come off as a ludicrous, if not hard to read. So instead I might make reference to it, directly or indirectly, at least once, and then the reader knows that that the character or characters speak that way. From then on, the reader does the voice themselves.
Better than, "whatchagonnadoforafaycewenthamonkeywantsitsbumback?". But, "how are you, good sir, planning to respond, should the monkey requisition its buttocks from you?" would be completely wrong. So, "whatcha gonna do for a face when the monkey wants its bum back?", after already defining your character's way of speaking, would be perfectly fine.
Anyway, not really what the OP was asking about, but semi related.
*dialogue from the wonderful, Footrot Flats movie.
Separate names with a comma.