Today we’ll focus on your character’s speech and mannerisms. In past lessons, we’ve discussed external and internal goals, core values and conflicts, physical details, and personality traits. Another layer in a character’s personality is speech. Each layer adds depth and makes your reader feel as if they know this person. Readers sometimes see themselves in your character. If they can identify with the character and develop a relationship with them, they’re more likely to remember the novel or story. That achieves your goal—unforgettable characters.
Think of Luke Skywalker. Are his actions around Princess Leah and Darth Vader the same? Does he talk with Han Solo the same way he talks with Yoda?
To make this personal, is a conversation with your parents the same as a chat with your best friend? Are your actions the same? Of course they aren’t.
Each character has a unique voice and mannerisms. Some may use proper English while others wouldn’t. As your write dialogue, have your characters speak the way they would in real life. Sentence fragments and poor grammar often show up in dialogue.
Shy and nervous Tracy, my artist in a previous lesson, might have a hard time talking with her employer. She might stutter or stumble over her words. However, she could explain the story behind her painting with ease if she’s talking with her best friend. You get the idea.
Take the characters you’ve created in previous lessons. Add another layer by giving each one a unique voice.
Create some dialogue. Try at least two of my suggestions from the list below or come up with another relationship. Use the same topic each time. Choose one of the characters you’ve already developed. By now, you should know them pretty well. How would they sound and act?
- Write a dialogue scene between your character and his/her best friend.
- Try one with a parent.
- Choose a scene with their boyfriend/girlfriend.
- Have the same discussion with a grandparent.
- Talk with a teacher or an employer.
- Discuss the issue with a brother or sister.