A synonym roll.
Currently I’m having an affair with an online Thesaurus.
Why? Much to my surprise, most of the characters that I write hate the way I speak and doubly hate the way I make them speak. Their demand, insistence, supplication, clamor to be unique requires me to change.
Generally, I abhor change. It’s too much work. It hurts. Change is hard. As an amateur people watcher, I thought writing other characters would be easy. It’s not. At least for me it’s not.
A fundamental difference exists between mimicking someone’s speech pattern and understanding why a character uses a specific word. Let me give you an example from real life.
As a younger man I learned to swear in a large number of languages. I would whip these expressions out a various times. It was fun, amusing. I suppose I thought I was cool. The rhythm and resonance of swear words can be lyrical, therapeutic. There is a music to swearing, an innate satisfaction in using the correct word at the perfect time. It’s pleasing. It made me happy.
Unfortunately, making comments about someone’s grandmother in a crowded bar, where native speakers decide to educate you on cultural differences can be painful and more importantly, inappropriate.
Imagine if Rick says, “It’d be nice if you remembered, that time, in like Paris?” instead of “We’ll always have Paris.”
Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation use of, or rather the lack of contractions has a profound impact on his character. (Yes, I know he used them, however…)
Or “My pretty ring” instead of “My Precious”
These are all pretty obvious, let’s try this:
“I’ll be back”
“I shall return”
I think you understand. I suspect that most of you know this better than I do. The best way for me to understand this is to read dialog out loud. Record and listen is even better. As I am still learning about this whole writing thingy, I am going to start using lists. Lists for specific items, like swearing. Since I am doing a space opera I can use expressions like, “The moons of Uranus!” or how about “For Craters and Freeze dried food, shut up.” But I digress.
One last example, Darth Vader, breathing. He’s not as menacing without the breathing, is he?
And on that breath, I am off to work on dialog and characters…