1. Michelle7

    Michelle7 New Member

    Oct 6, 2012
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    Is correct grammar always necessary?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Michelle7, Oct 27, 2012.

    I'm writing a Ya novel and most of my characters are teenagers. I'm wondering if I should write correct grammar as opposed to the way they really talk? For example,"Well... Um, see like I don't really know."

  2. Dubya

    Dubya New Member

    Feb 11, 2012
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    Ayrshire, Scotland, UK
    My personal feeling is that character dialogue, or even a narrator, can use casual language, but description should be grammatically correct. That doesn't mean you HAVE to do it, just my opinion.:)
  3. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributor Contributor

    Jul 27, 2011
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    Dialogue should be realistic but not verbatim. You want readers to understand what's being said and also not to get bored/irritated by a lot of "um's" and "like's" and "dude's" etc.
  4. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Alive in the Superunknown

    Jun 28, 2012
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    Yes, skip, the fillers, but avoid formal grammar in dialogue unless it would be natural to the character for some reason.
  5. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    ditto that!
  6. digitig

    digitig Contributor Contributor

    Jan 21, 2010
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    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    As others have pointed out, you don't want to write how people really talk, because that would be unreadable. You want to give the illusion that it's how they really talk. For instance, here's a passage chosen at random from a corpus of actual conversations (BNC:OU Speech). It's actually better than most. The false starts, the hesitations, the wandering subject, the non-sequiturs and so on would annoy most readers (although some playwrights have tried to emulate such real speech, notably Pinter). In practice you could keep some of the problems to give a little of the flavour of real speech, but you'd need to tidy it up a lot to make it usable as dialog in mainstream fiction. PS065 and PS066 are the speakers.
    PS065:I can't see Mike and Robin making [laughing] a cake [unclear], can you?
    PS066: No. No but
    PS065: Not [unclear], no no no. [unclear] Robin necessarily but [pause] just [unclear] temperaments [unclear]
    PS066: I don't know but well I remember going out [pause] shopping and when I came back you'd got
    PS065: Jill.
    PS066: you'd gone out. No they were, they were all of them there.
    PS065: Were they?
    PS066: Nan and I were out shopping. When we got back -
    PS065: Mm?
    PS066: [pause] it was Christmas shopping I think.
    PS065: Mm.
    PS066: Anyway you'd been out and bought one of those m packets of m cake mix.
    PS065: [laughing] Oh it would be ready mixed, yes.
    PS066: [laugh] Well [pause] and they'd made little buns. [laugh] They were very nice really.
    PS065: Oh it's a tribute to the -
    PS066: The state of the kitchen wasn't. [laugh]
    PS065: Well [pause] that'll be a tribute to the manufacturer, sure. Mm well I rem-
    PS066: And Robin and L... and erm [pause] Carol doing that er cabbage [pause] cabbage
    PS065: Oh that revolting
    PS066: That was horrible.
    PS065: That was terrible. [pause] I remember Jill though. I don't remember the mix but mm I don't know that, I vaguely remember now, yes but
    PS066: Oh they were all there
    PS065: Mm.
    PS066: because we'd gone out, I think it was the Christmas shopping we were doing on our own.
    PS065: Was it?
    PS066: Mm.
    PS065: Mm. Yes I've got a hazy recollection but [unclear]. Mm. [pause] Jill'll remember. But she was a lot younger surely, Jill? And she'd be a bit
    PS066: Oh she'd be young, erm
    PS065: Younger than them I mean.​

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