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Author Topic: I need writing help - Character speech?  (Read 757 times)

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Offline MissChurro

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I need writing help - Character speech?
« on: December 05, 2013, 11:31:32 PM »
Okay, I'm really not sure if this is in the right section, but...
One thing I've realized in my writing... All of my characters speak the same way. They use a lot of the same words, and sometimes it's hard to even tell who's talking because there's nothing distinctive in their speech. I have one character who's very smart, he speaks very calmly, he uses bigger, smarter words, he speaks very politely, he has perfect grammar, even speaking formally would be a good way to put it. After writing a lot of his dialogue, I realized I was writing all of my characters that way. But a lot of my characters shouldn't speak that way. I have reckless and adventurous characters who need to be louder and clumsier with their words, I have children characters who need to have younger speech, I have characters who are kinda stubborn and reluctant to warm up to people, and they need to have colder, less welcoming speech... I have characters of many other personalities who need their speech changed, but I think you guys get the idea.
Point is, since I've gotten into the habit of writing the character's dialogue the same way, I can't figure out how to break the habit. I used to have a fairly good sense of how my characters should talk, and they were all pretty distinctive, but I've been writing them this way for so long, I've kinda brainwashed myself of that...

If anyone has any sort of advice, writing exercises, words I can use for certain personalities to understand how they should speak, anything like that would really be helpful...

I appreciate it! :heart:

Offline Nairbons

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Re: I need writing help - Character speech?
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2013, 11:51:50 PM »
Sometimes, it helps to give each character the Plinkett Test, which boils down to: Describe your characters without mentioning their appearance, job, or title.

The descriptions you provide for your characters helps to strip away the fluff that can get in the way of characterization. You've got to take a basic personality and add in some background. Doing it the other way around works too, but try to work from the basics up for this exercise. Once you've got the basics down for each person, factor in their motivations and connections for the people who are talking. Remember that people can take on totally different personalities depending on who is in their presence.

For example, the smart guy might be the nicest guy in the world towards his dear family members or love interests, trying to assist and impress them with his intelligence through lengthy explanations and being cheerful while also humble. Meanwhile he treats the people he dislikes by using large words and facts bluntly to assert a sort of passive-aggressive superiority.

Those are just kind of the basics I go for in terms of how to approach the start of dialogue. Things get wildly different depending on the genre you're looking into. Is there anything specific that you're looking for?

Offline Coryn

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Re: I need writing help - Character speech?
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2013, 07:51:31 AM »
Well one idea would be to pin down exactly where they're all from. No matter where you go on this earth you're going to find different regional dialects and accents. If you can figure out what accent your character should have, then you can incorporate it into their dialogue.

Another idea, to throw at a character who is a bit, shall we say simpler? Is to use lots of contractions and simplification in their speech. Don't instead of do not. Drop the "g" off the end of "ing" words. Throw in a few "aint's' every once and a while.

For a colder character, leave them with very proper sounding with their word choice, but leave them short and too the point. Slightly antagonistic word choices would be good as well. If a disagreement comes up, just have them reply "No." instead of actually explaining their reasoning. And if forced to explain, make them sound annoyed with having to do so, stick in a few timely quips.

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Offline MissChurro

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Re: I need writing help - Character speech?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2013, 02:33:09 PM »
Sorry for the late response, guys! I've been inactive the past few days...

Sometimes, it helps to give each character the Plinkett Test, which boils down to: Describe your characters without mentioning their appearance, job, or title.

The descriptions you provide for your characters helps to strip away the fluff that can get in the way of characterization. You've got to take a basic personality and add in some background. Doing it the other way around works too, but try to work from the basics up for this exercise. Once you've got the basics down for each person, factor in their motivations and connections for the people who are talking. Remember that people can take on totally different personalities depending on who is in their presence.

For example, the smart guy might be the nicest guy in the world towards his dear family members or love interests, trying to assist and impress them with his intelligence through lengthy explanations and being cheerful while also humble. Meanwhile he treats the people he dislikes by using large words and facts bluntly to assert a sort of passive-aggressive superiority.

Those are just kind of the basics I go for in terms of how to approach the start of dialogue. Things get wildly different depending on the genre you're looking into. Is there anything specific that you're looking for?

Thank you! That's really helpful! I'll definitely try that exercise.^-^

Well, the genre for this particular story is a fantasy action/adventure... Since it's fantasy, I'd really like to have interesting, colorful characters... Not one's that all speak the same way, making everyone boring.

Well one idea would be to pin down exactly where they're all from. No matter where you go on this earth you're going to find different regional dialects and accents. If you can figure out what accent your character should have, then you can incorporate it into their dialogue.

Another idea, to throw at a character who is a bit, shall we say simpler? Is to use lots of contractions and simplification in their speech. Don't instead of do not. Drop the "g" off the end of "ing" words. Throw in a few "aint's' every once and a while.

For a colder character, leave them with very proper sounding with their word choice, but leave them short and too the point. Slightly antagonistic word choices would be good as well. If a disagreement comes up, just have them reply "No." instead of actually explaining their reasoning. And if forced to explain, make them sound annoyed with having to do so, stick in a few timely quips.

Thank you! That's also really helpful! :3

The only problem with the first part, is that my story is fantasy, and the world is completely made up. I haven't gotten as far as deciding how everyone in each land talks yet... Maybe that's the next thing I should focus on with my world development?


Anyway, thank you guys! Both of your posts were really helpful, and I'll try those ideas. ^-^

Offline Lumaria

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Re: I need writing help - Character speech?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2013, 02:46:07 PM »
Okay, I'm really not sure if this is in the right section, but...
One thing I've realized in my writing... All of my characters speak the same way. They use a lot of the same words, and sometimes it's hard to even tell who's talking because there's nothing distinctive in their speech. I have one character who's very smart, he speaks very calmly, he uses bigger, smarter words, he speaks very politely, he has perfect grammar, even speaking formally would be a good way to put it. After writing a lot of his dialogue, I realized I was writing all of my characters that way. But a lot of my characters shouldn't speak that way. I have reckless and adventurous characters who need to be louder and clumsier with their words, I have children characters who need to have younger speech, I have characters who are kinda stubborn and reluctant to warm up to people, and they need to have colder, less welcoming speech... I have characters of many other personalities who need their speech changed, but I think you guys get the idea.
Point is, since I've gotten into the habit of writing the character's dialogue the same way, I can't figure out how to break the habit. I used to have a fairly good sense of how my characters should talk, and they were all pretty distinctive, but I've been writing them this way for so long, I've kinda brainwashed myself of that...

If anyone has any sort of advice, writing exercises, words I can use for certain personalities to understand how they should speak, anything like that would really be helpful...

I appreciate it! :heart:


you probably not establishing distinct characters and how they react together. if all characters humor each other, its as if their all the same character. try finding some conflict between them. not pure drama, but some everyday misunderstandings or problems. things that one character may not realize what they said and the other mentions it in probably outloud or in his head.

but also note that some dialogue could change once you develop strong personalities. its good to not mke every character perfect, but reasonably imperfect.

if your characters are all the same age group, but its probably that you're using specific wording that only certain characters should use.
Stop playing victim....you know what you did.

Offline MissChurro

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Re: I need writing help - Character speech?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2014, 01:46:52 AM »
Okay, I'm really not sure if this is in the right section, but...
One thing I've realized in my writing... All of my characters speak the same way. They use a lot of the same words, and sometimes it's hard to even tell who's talking because there's nothing distinctive in their speech. I have one character who's very smart, he speaks very calmly, he uses bigger, smarter words, he speaks very politely, he has perfect grammar, even speaking formally would be a good way to put it. After writing a lot of his dialogue, I realized I was writing all of my characters that way. But a lot of my characters shouldn't speak that way. I have reckless and adventurous characters who need to be louder and clumsier with their words, I have children characters who need to have younger speech, I have characters who are kinda stubborn and reluctant to warm up to people, and they need to have colder, less welcoming speech... I have characters of many other personalities who need their speech changed, but I think you guys get the idea.
Point is, since I've gotten into the habit of writing the character's dialogue the same way, I can't figure out how to break the habit. I used to have a fairly good sense of how my characters should talk, and they were all pretty distinctive, but I've been writing them this way for so long, I've kinda brainwashed myself of that...

If anyone has any sort of advice, writing exercises, words I can use for certain personalities to understand how they should speak, anything like that would really be helpful...

I appreciate it! :heart:


you probably not establishing distinct characters and how they react together. if all characters humor each other, its as if their all the same character. try finding some conflict between them. not pure drama, but some everyday misunderstandings or problems. things that one character may not realize what they said and the other mentions it in probably outloud or in his head.

but also note that some dialogue could change once you develop strong personalities. its good to not mke every character perfect, but reasonably imperfect.

if your characters are all the same age group, but its probably that you're using specific wording that only certain characters should use.

Sorry it took me so long to reply to this... Back when you posted this, I was just so busy I forgot I made this thread haha...

Well anyway, I think I see what you're saying. My main characters are all friends, they all live with each other actually, so I guess I always imagined them acting nicely towards each other. However, a few of them have personalities which I could see as easily conflicting, so I could see them having misunderstandings/small arguments from time to time.

Would a good exercise be to create some different scenarios to put my characters through, to see how they react to each other? For example, one character annoys another and I write how they react to it, or an argument comes up and I write how the involved characters respond?

All of my characters are around the same age group... Between 19-24 I think. I don't have exact ages for everyone yet, but that's what I imagined haha. Since it's not a very drastic age difference, does that affect how they talk to each other much?
The only drastic difference in age is one character's little brother lives with them too, and he's about 6 or 7...
So obviously they'll speak differently to him and vice versa, but since he lives with a group of adults, would he speak slightly more maturely than a normal 6 or 7 year old?

Sorry for all the questions... I just really want to fix all of my dialogue. xD
« Last Edit: January 13, 2014, 01:50:32 AM by MissChurro »

Offline Lumaria

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Re: I need writing help - Character speech?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2014, 02:02:52 AM »
i suggest you expand character further. its good if certain group of characters are good to each other, but generally you want them to keep as distinct as possible.

even those who get along should have some quirk or two that makes them separate from the others. its difficult to keep track of all of them when you introduce them all at once too.
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Offline MissChurro

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Re: I need writing help - Character speech?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2014, 12:46:34 PM »
i suggest you expand character further. its good if certain group of characters are good to each other, but generally you want them to keep as distinct as possible.

even those who get along should have some quirk or two that makes them separate from the others. its difficult to keep track of all of them when you introduce them all at once too.

Ahh yeah I see what you're saying. ^-^
Thank you very much! I'll definitely try to improve on this! :3