Part of my website is called Tawk 2 Me. The word Tawk we all know should be spelled as Talk. The reason it isn’t here is because of my Brooklyn accent. I haven’t lived in New York in over 30 years, nor in Brooklyn for close to 42 . But I still speak as if I just got off the local Flatbush train. I don’t pronounce “R’s” at the end of works, substituting “A’s” for them and my nasal, drifting cadence tells you immediately when you meet me that I am a Brooklyn girl. On the occasions when I go back to NY for a day or so, the accent reverts to a primordial twang and it grows even thicka ( thicker!) See: I even do it when I write!
Long before there was callerID people knew it was me on the other end of the phone the moment I said, “h’llo.”
This is a long winded way of saying one of the best ways to make your characters seem like real people is through:
- word choice
Where are these two people from?:
Guy 1 “Yo.”
Guy 2 “Yo”
Guy 1 “Where you been at?”
Guy2 “My ol’lady. Been busy. Bangin’ all day.”
Guy 1 “Go scratch.”
Guy 2 “True.”
Okay, I could go on with these two goons, but I think you get the idea from the dialogue, that these are two are not exactly Rhodes Scholars speaking about esoteric world events. They actually sound like guys I grew up with, so if you said they live in NYC or Brooklyn to be specific, you would be correct.
So here’s the same dialogue from a different part of the country:
Guy 1. “Hey.”
Guy 2. “Hey, back.”
Guy 1 “Where y’all been?”
Guy 2 “With my girl. We’ve been getting busy b’tween the sheets, know what I’m sayin’?”
Guy1 “No way, bro”
Guy 2 “Way.”
See the difference? Same speech, different words. They sound different and read differently. When I see this I immediately think midwest – south because of the “y’all.” I can hear the twang and drawl.
Word choice and word placement are two ways to make your character sound real and read as real.
When you read a Regency romance you will never hear a character say a line like this: “Yo, bitch, what time we gotta be there? ” Instead, the line would probably read like this: “My dear, what time are we expected to arrive?” Same meaning, different time period and word choice.
Dialogue is a powerful way to present your characters. Here’s a great little tool to use when plotting ( sorry, pantsers) your storyboarding and your characters. Check out the language and communication page: CHARACTER CHART.
Part three is next. I love this topic because I love my characters and the people they are!