1. Keyvee
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    Keyvee Member

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    Regular problems with dialogs

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Keyvee, May 24, 2008.

    Another problem I have to face is dialog. I have been looking on the Internet for lists of "words" like er, oh and so on. I'm also trying to find informal (slang) equivalents to typical words. like you-ya, want to- wanna, etc. Has anyone gathered this information or came across it?
     
  2. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Dialogue isn't exactly like real talking, because in real life we go off topic and say stuff like "uh". But you have to make dialogue believable, without being completely realistic. Just read your dialogue out loud -- if it sounds really fake, make it sound more believable.

    Oh, and I mainly write Medieval Fantasy, so they don't say "yo", "gonna", etc.
     
  3. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    I haven't ever come across a site that specifically lists common slang for words - most you will hear in every day speech. The thing to remember, though, as Kratos has pointed out, is that dialogue reads differently to how it sounds. When - in real life - it sounds perfectly natural for someone to use 'ya' instead of 'you', reading that can sometimes be a little jarring if it's used extensively.

    Obviously, the language used in dialogue should realistically represent a character, and many people use that kind of slang in their everyday speech, but I would just caution against overdoing it (particularly with filling words like 'uh', 'er', 'um' and ''oh'), as it may mean readers will find it more difficult to readily identify with your characters.
     
  4. Vitrify
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    Vitrify Member

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    A select few of my characters use "uh" and "wanna" and "gonna" quite often because this is used to show their character, while some others speak perfectly grammatically. I think it's acceptable as long as it's not overused and does not detract the reader from the actual content of the book.
     
  5. Keyvee
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    Keyvee Member

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    I have a few different characters, and I fear that having all of them speaking formal correct English would seem so unnatural. If one of them is a tipical teenager, having him speaking ya, gonna etc all the time would sound normal.
     
  6. Conall
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    Conall New Member

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    Usually if you're struggling with dialogue, it means you don't know your characters well enough.

    Think about your characters, ask them a few questions and listen to how they speak to you. Do they talk fast or slow? Are they well spoken and educated? Do they like to talk in metaphors or more directly? Where do they come from? Do they speak in their first language or are they using another? Are they emotional - anger, sadness, bitter?

    Also think about the scene your characters are involved in. What are their goals? Are they lying to someone or trying to find out the truth? What is your scene about? What are you trying to convey to the reader? Once you know what your characters are about and what they each want to achieve in the scene, then it should hopefully by much easier to write dialogue.

    Going by your last post, you're already doing the right things. It just takes a little bit of time and practice to get the hang of how your character talks. Try writing small short stories about each of your characters till you feel comfortable with their dialogue.
     
  7. Amor
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    Amor Member

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    Depending on the personality of my characters, and their overall behavior, they might say "uh" "gonna" "yo", and other slang words like that. An example is a "typical teenager" type of character.

    I'm a teenager, and I don't speak perfect English when I talk. I use slang words all the time when I talk, actually. But you probably don't want to reduce their dialogue to only slang words because it would be difficult to read after a while.

    Using slang words in dialogue adds realism to stories, I think, because not everybody speaks perfect English. However, there may be characters that it would be totally okay for them to speak intelligently. It all depends on the character :)
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    With hesitation words, your best bet is to use them less than half as often as you feel is necessary for your character. Such words stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, so you don't need as many instances as you think yo get the point across.

    The same is true of the slang words. Your readers will notice those words much more than they will notice their absence in every single place your character would probably say them. Underusing them will always sound more natural.
     
  9. Aurora_Black
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    Aurora_Black Contributing Member

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    The say Aye! the the good fluffy pirate they are! Oh wait, thier from the 17th century :(
     
  10. Tyunglebo
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    I have only been doing fiction a short while, but I sometimes invoke a literary version of what I call the "Hunt for Red October" strategy*...that is to say, establish that a character talks with a certain accent, or dialect...by having tyhem say a few important things that way. Or describe how he talks, if it's relevent to the story.(ex. he spoke in a typical, illiterate teenage fashion) but then write the diologue in a more recognizable and middle of the road way..if character is established, readers will know that the Queen's English is not being spoken.

    *If you have not seen the movie...half the characters are Russian, and they are established while the actors are speaking actual Russian with subtitles...until at one point, the camera zooms slowly in on Sean Connery, and then zooms slowly out...after which the Russians are speaking accented English...though we know by the device they are actually still speaking their native tongue...without the jarring need for subtitles. Quite a good device in that film, I always thought.
     
  11. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    I agree with the others on this one, use as few slang words as possible, unless of course it fits your character.
    However, if you really need the words, there's an Urban Dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com/) - but many of the words in there are curses and rude slang alternatives. But you can find other words in there, too.
     

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