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  1. Darrell Standing

    Darrell Standing Member

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    Does a character's speech make you picture the character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Darrell Standing, Oct 8, 2013.

    Is a character's dialogue - accent, words they use, tics etc as important to you as character description?
    Does the dialogue generate what a character looks like for you?
     
  2. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

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    It doesn't help me picture them at all, but that's just me.

    What does however is what they are doing during the conversation. Are they playing a game, sitting in a meeting, stuff like that.
    I do my own voices :p

    I do like it when characters have their own sayings or they're written exactly as they pronounce it.
    You can tell me they speak with a slurred British accent but I will quickly forget that and my inhead voice will make him sound perfectly normal.
     
  3. Mottahko

    Mottahko Active Member

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    For me its not so much the actual dialogue that does it as it is the adjectives used in conjunction verb. For instance imstead of just saying "he shouted" writing it "he shouted angrily". Or with even more detail "he shouted with an unusual anger that made (name of other character) wonder. Thats what helps me with getting to know characters better
     
  4. Darrell Standing

    Darrell Standing Member

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    I always thought those kind of tags should be avoided like the plague? Opinions anyone?
     
  5. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

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    What do you mean tags?

    There's nothing wrong at all with adding a tonal description to the volume of his voice.
    As long as you say it once and only mention his voice growing up or reducing eventually.
     
  6. Mottahko

    Mottahko Active Member

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    @Darrell Standing

    Sort of what @A.M.P. is saying. Using them too much, in every bit or even most of your dialogue can really bog down the writing and make it tedious for the reader. But using it in that way is more than just dialogue description, a little bit here and there helps with character development, atmphoseric setting and dynamics between different characters
     
  7. Darrell Standing

    Darrell Standing Member

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    Ok I hear u :) so mix it a bit for variety and what not...
     
  8. Mottahko

    Mottahko Active Member

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    Yes. Theres times when you can use the dialogue to help paint a scene. Then again there's times when its just dialogue and you want to move through it quickly. It's good to have balance and doing both helps build the dyanmic style of your writing in general
     
  9. Darrell Standing

    Darrell Standing Member

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    I'd be inclined to agree. I read some famous writer saying that you should never use them - that you should always just use he said/she said. It might have been Elmore Leonard, not sure...
     
  10. Mottahko

    Mottahko Active Member

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    Well... I'm not saying it couldn't be done and I'm sure there's some writers out there that use it as sort of a stylistic trademark. However I disagree with that. I feel like it makes reading the dialogue really boring.
     
  11. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Not like the plague, exactly. The occasional use is fine. It becomes a problem when you use it too often, so the reader notices, or when you use silly tags ("he shouted preposterously" or "she whined unforgettably" or "he whispered outlandishly" or "she mumbled superficially" etc.).

    As a general rule, don't use adverbs in your dialogue tags unless you really need to.
     
  12. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Even that's a bit too strong. Yes, avoid them in general. However, "need" is not the criteria I would recommend. It's more subtle than that. Become sensitive to every use of them, so you don't throw them in without thought.

    Then you will be in a position to judge whether that rare addition of the adverb enhances or detracts from the passage.

    If the tag "needs" the adverb, you may be approaching it the wrong way.
     
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  13. David K. Thomasson

    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    Read Dickens and you'll find your answer.
     
  14. Darrell Standing

    Darrell Standing Member

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    I've read Dickens, bud ;)....I was asking other ppl what they thought...i already know what i think.
     
  15. David K. Thomasson

    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    What do you think?
     
  16. Darrell Standing

    Darrell Standing Member

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    Yes, when speech is done well it makes me imagine the characters. Most definitely does :)
     
  17. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The character's behavior, actions, diction, idiolect, all of that is MUCH more important to me in visualizing the character than what you the writer tell me in the voice of the narrator. I get deeply miffed when a writer does the old her golden hair fell in smooth waves across the bright gingham plaid of her summer dress that matched perfectly with the darling pumps she found at Barney's. Her radiant green eyes lit the freckles on her alabaster cheeks with, blah, blah, blah...

    What I get is this:

    [​IMG]

    And it never ends up looking any better than a cheesy paint-by-numbers in my head.

    How your actor handles her/himself, how they interact with others, how others interact with them, how they speak, their strength and assurance (or lack thereof), their humor or severity, all this tells me worlds about them physically, good, bad, or indifferent. I may well be drawing from banks of data molded by cultural training and prejudices, but they are my banks of data and they are what I bring to reading your piece. It's my bit of the participation. When the writer takes that away from me, I start to get super bored.
     
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  18. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Someone mentioned Dickens, but I would also point to Trollope and Delderfield who often used modes and manners of speech to fill out their characters. Then again, in 19th and early 20th century England, modes of speech were an easy way to categorize people by class, as the two were closely related.
     
  19. ChaosReigns

    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    the way my character speaks can influence how i see the character, other times, not so much, it depends on how much the character speaks... i mean the piece im working on currently, i had what the character looked like before id written down him saying a single word... only reason that is, is because he is the central character to my piece... id love to reveal more, but, id give away a bit more of my NaNoWriMo piece
     
  20. Tesoro

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I definitely think a good dialogue can help get a more complete picture of a character, just like in reality where peoples speech pattern can say a lot about them and if you also combine that with other visible attributes, that might help in giving a good picture of a person in a story. Just think about how differently people actually speak and what that says about their personality, social status, age, etc.
     
  21. Andrae Smith

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    So wait... occasion doses of the plague is a bad thing??? :(
     
  22. Andrae Smith

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    But seriously, to the OP, the saying I like to keep in mind is, "dialogue reveals character." Not necessarily the visuals, but the character's internal being, if that makes sense.
     

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