1. cherrya

    cherrya Active Member

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    How do you know if the dialogue is coming from the character's mind and not yours?

    Discussion in 'Dialogue Development' started by cherrya, Jul 18, 2018.

    When you write a dialogue do you wait a second to think "Mh, how would he say that here?" or just write without thinking about it too much and review it later?

    I love dialogue, and for conversations to flow I feel like I need to just write it without thinking about it too much. It comes out more naturally this way, but when I go back to review it I can't figure out whether my character would actually say it like that, or if I can't think of anything else or if it's just because I'd say it like that or....!

    This really isn't about figuring out what they're going to say, but how they're going to say it. I think it can get easier over time but I don't feel like I have enough experience with dialogues and my characters at large to know whether this particular way is true to their character or not. I think it's really important to be because it's their whole essence, in a way. You can say that they did this and that but when their wording doesn't go with it it breaks the immersion and makes them a bit too two dimensional.

    I hope this is clear lol, either way thanks! If any of you has any links on the subject it would also help me as well!

    Edit : I think Stephen King said once that you should only write if you can hear the character's voice in your head. Perhaps that's what he meant.
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I typically write it as it comes, knowing it is likely going to represent my personal idiolect, my individual mode of speech, but I don't tend to write characters with idiosyncratic modes of speech. When I do, if anything, I go overboard in their dialogue bits and find that I later have to pull it back a peg or two.
     
  3. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think you might just be being a bit too romantic about the whole writing process. Everything's coming from your head - you're writing it, after all. These characters might feel like they're alive, but honestly, they're not. They're just not, unless you're schizophrenic, but then I think you have bigger problems :p To some extent, you have to accept that every character is a facet of yourself - of your perspective, of your take on things, of you.

    I think the only way really to get good at "Would my character say that" is to write your characters more often. The more developed they are, the more time you spend thinking and fleshing them out, the more individual they will be and thus, the better you are at grasping what they might or might not say.

    Don't write unless you hear a voice in your head is a fancy notion, I think, even if it is coming from Stephen King. Because in my opinion, you ain't ever gonna get that voice if you never write. Just write it how you think it should go - and then go back and edit. That's what editing is for. But at the same time, don't get too caught up in making your characters sound different. Sometimes there are only so many ways to say a thing. Other times, that particular line really doesn't hold so much weight. Most of us speak in a fairly nondescript manner. It's more our opinions and approach that set us apart, not the words we choose.
     
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  4. cherrya

    cherrya Active Member

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    I think you're absolutely right lol. I just spent three hours trying to figure it out (I'm bored and at work), and all I came to is that I just need to write... I wish I could just find a magical equation that would make it easier but no lol nope nope nope

    Thanks anyway, hearing you say those things gave me hope. I'll just have to do my best.
     
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  5. GB reader

    GB reader Contributor Contributor

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    I think I usually do it in two passes.

    I first write the diauloge so it contains the information that is needed for the story.
    Then later I think about how it's actually said.
     
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  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    People don't talk all that different from each other. Most of the time the way people talk is just normal. Sure you can give a character an accent or stutter, but how someone talks is not their essence. And I would say what's being said (straight and plain) is often more important than how it's being said. You're trying to tell a good story. That doesn't mean you have to give so much thought to how things are coming out in dialog. make sure what's being said is important, and let any character essence just come out naturally through the story itself.
     
  7. Kingwood Kid

    Kingwood Kid Member

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    Writing dialogue the way actual people speak isn't the way to good fiction. Actual people are unfocused and go off on long, irrelevant tangents all the time. They don't speak in complete sentences, instead they cut each other off and talk over one another or just half-listen until it's their turn to speak. They misuse words, mumble, repeat themselves, etc. I mean, all that is what I do; I'm assuming it's that way for everyone.

    As far as hearing the voice in your head, I think that's the best way if it's an option. Your character should be pretty fully formed in your head. Even if most of what you picture never ends up on the page, thinking of it should help you think about how that person would talk.
     
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  8. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    You don't want all your characters to be masterful speakers though. You can clean it up a little bit, but I would say personally that the best way is to stick the upper end of regular conservation, but still within a believable range.
     
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  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I disagree. Your characters shouldn't be speechwriters, but the erratic uncertain rambling of normal speech, and the huge percentage of time that normal speech spends on irrelevancies, should not be reflected in fiction.
     
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  10. Kingwood Kid

    Kingwood Kid Member

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    What happens in real life isn't the same as what works on a page (or on screen). But believable and realistic are not the same thing. The dialogue should be much more purposeful and focused than normal conversations are, but a seduction shouldn't read like a powerpoint presentation. You'd like it to be more elevated, but most of us don't place our coffee orders in a sonnet, as that would not be "within a believable range," as you put it.
     
  11. WaffleWhale

    WaffleWhale Active Member

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    I think it adds a sense of realism if they speak at least somewhat the way a real person would. Don't stay stuff like "uh" or "um" unless your trying to make it clear someone is uncomfortable, but you can misuse the occasional word as long as its clear it was intentional, and grammar doesn't always have to be perfect. For example, although I actually usually speak using the whom/who rule, I know most people don't and I only really write that way when writing a fancy person or an English nerd.
     
  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm absolutely not saying that grammar has to be perfect, that the speech has to be grand and poetic, anything like that. I'm not arguing for formality. I'm arguing for a lack of diffuse rambling.

    Diffuse rambling:

    Allison: Hey, Jane, how are you?

    Jane: Oh, good, good, how about you?

    Allison: Fine. Kind of busy.

    Jane: Great.

    Allison: Great

    Jane: Well, I'm on my way to lunch.

    Allison: Where you going?

    Jane: That place, um, you know, at the end of--no, it's not Madison. You know that new Greek place?

    Allison: The one that Josh was talking about?

    Jane: Yeah. Or maybe Jeff. Which one is Josh?

    Allison: The one with blond hair. Josh, I mean.

    Jane: Right, him, yeah. I'm trying that place. I got a coupon.

    Allison: Well, tell me how it is.

    Jane: Sure.

    Allison: Bye.

    Jane: Bye.
     
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  13. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    You may one to do this sometimes though, when you want there to be a certain amount of awkwardness. It's not like it can't get any worse than that.
     

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