So I wanted to do this speech patterns post as separate from what turned into the body language post because then I can focus more exclusively on the language aspect, but I’ll mention a bit throughout for how to combine that with body language.
Precise Word Choice
Okay so importantly, one thing that really stands out about Wally is his actual word choice. Unlike a lot of people I’ve looked at so far, even when he’s not using technical language (like Cisco and Caitlin with physics and biology), Wally actually uses a lot of multi-syllabilic and more specific words. He doesn’t say he “we dropped him off in iron heights”, he says “deposited” in Iron Heights. That shows a more precise use of language. Not “I don’t know” but “unclear” (so cute in that scene).
He uses words like “required” instead of “needed”.
He doesn’t go for the simplest words, not because he’s trying hard to pick complex ones, just because he seems naturally strong in linguistic intelligence.
And look at that word choice! It’s brilliant. The use of a double negative (”not” and “in-” before appropriate) fluidly rather than simplifying the statement to a positive (”a little quaking in your boots might be appropriate”) which would make his statement more direct and come off as a little less clever-sounding. He wants to sound clever when he’s being cheeky.
And I mean, look how he uses words here to tease even while displaying some discomfort (which, note, more restrained posture and body language).
He’s chose a four-syllable word for his adjective (interesting), a highly specific and less common word for the noun (venue) and his comment is noticeably tongue-in-cheek in part because of that word choice. And then talking about the ‘theme’, which is more an abstract word (and not all of the characters like to deal in abstraction when they make remarks, for the record). He didn’t say “style” or “decorations” or anything, but chose ‘theme’. He likes to use some metaphor and abstraction in his language.
So we get from that that Wally likes words a good deal, and enjoys word-play, a little bit at least. Please please write him with a love of language, even though it’s subtle.
But note that you don’t have to always have him going for longer or more precise words. Don’t strain yourself. Because he sure doesn’t. He’s happy to be direct and even to swear, a bit more than some of the other characters, but still sparingly.
I’d say that Wally doesn’t mind to swear, and does maybe slightly more than some of our other characters, at least in Flashpoint. “Who the hell are you?” and “I’m so gonna kick your ass” come easily to him. But he’s never vulgar, and the swears come out mostly when he’s challenged and when he’s being Kid Flash.
Wally is also perfectly happy to opt for the word “weird” as one of his preferred adjectives. Really, he uses it more than once.
It’s great. (He’s also one of the few characters the word ‘dude’. Joe also does sometimes. I kind of love it). Another word he likes to use is ‘awesome’ actually, which he’ll use totally without irony. He uses it here again, with a ton of other adjectives too, more specific ones as he’s searching for words to describe a feeling, and maybe not used to not having the exact words he wants at his fingertips.
(Though note, like the tic-tac-toe theme example from above, Wally isn’t above sarcasm. He’s just very dry when it comes out, and it’s often when he’s annoyed or tired of something, or exhausted maybe. It’s not his base mood, but it certainly can come out).
Which brings me to another point. Wally is very practical. Like, as a person, and in his speech. That’s part of the precision thing. But he’s often the one voicing when things are strange or awry, remarking on the improbability of their situation. He’s also the one to jump to the simplest solution to a problem:
But note that he’s well aware of his own feelings and showing a real clarity of understanding the situation. He feels that people don’t have faith in him and his abilities here and he’s not wrong. They’re more worried about him being hurt than they are trusting of his ability to succeed. Wally sees the core of things and it shows in his speech, getting there concisely.
Even though he likes adjectives, he’s not overly flowery when he talks, at least unless he’s really upbeat about something. Particularly when upset, he’s more short and to the point with his word choice (”it sucks”) but there is nothing overly simplistic about his phrasing.
Wally uses full sentences. Like, almost always. I mean, not if he’s responding “yeah” to someone, or there’s a good cause for him to be short and speak in phrases. But unlike some people (*cough*Leonard*cough*) he never drops the subject of a sentence. He doesn’t even drop descriptors that he could. “That dude gets weirder every time I see him” and not “dude gets weirder every time I see him”.
Even here, conveying a very complete thought when asking for help (this could be transcribed as a single two-clause sentence instead of as two sentences, because he very often uses two-clause complex sentences if you listen to him).
So Wally’s more naturally verbose than some people. He uses full sentences and lots of adjectives – all that ‘weird’ and ‘awesome’ to qualify nouns, even the word ‘inappropriate’ about the Rival quaking in his boots, ‘greatest’ to explain the feeling of running, and just generally across the board. There are so many adjectives (and sometimes adverbs) popping up in his speech, helping to stretch out those sentences.
Softening His Speech
And you know what else there is? Qualifiers and hedging!
I love talking about how people qualify and emphasis, which you might know by now. Because this really gives insight into a person and also into specific little things that will make their speech sound like ‘them’ instead of same voice. I’ve said that Len very seldom qualifies anything (I think he uses the word ‘really’ once or twice?) and that Barry mostly only qualifies into making things more absolute (adding “at all” to something). But Wally? Wally hedges properly, to soften something. To qualify it. Thank you, Wally. I mean, not that he never uses a qualifier as an adverb for emphasis:
But look at how he hedges this statement, even jokingly: “I think”:
He’ll often say “I think” in front of something to make it less absolute.
This ties in to how he turns imperatives (orders) into questions sometimes. He softens a command by seeking agreement from the person he’s giving it to.
And he also does this a bit with declarative sentences. Check out this gifset where he’s angry and shouting at Joe (season 2) but still says “okay?” mid-rant in part because he’s still unsure of himself and is hiding behind bluster (I’m guessing) and in part because he probably isn’t too comfortable with shouting people down and being so abrupt with them.
But questions are a definite facet of his speech. Most of them don’t require an actual answer, they’re rhetorical or just phrased that way. And I think that Wally uses questions a lot to soften his speech. Not to seem soft but not to have sharp corners and bold demands. He’s incredibly personable and likeable and it shows through in this way.
I should point out, since I just brought up anger, that a lot of Wally’s speech, like anyone’s, is impacted a lot by his emotions. I’ve made reference to that already, about how he’ll say ‘weird’ and ‘awesome’ more around people he’s comfortable talking to. About his dry sarcasm at times, that irony. But his anger is important too. He was pretty understandably angry when we first got to know him in season 2, but you can tell he isn’t used to being angry and shouting people down all that often, like I just said.
And when he’s not angry or frustrated with someone, he admits to needing help.
So he is at least a little bit ruled by his emotions in his speech, but for the most part, he doesn’t let it get in the way of his good sense, even if he can be a bit stubborn. His strong ethics tend to be what guide him though, a deep sense of loyalty but also the desire to do good and help others, and he places that above his own anger and pain every time.
Final (Minor) Notes
I mentioned that Wally will hedge a statement with “I think” but that fits into a broader pattern he engages in. He’ll often praface a statement with some minor addition like “I think” or “wait” or “hold up” (the latter two I find ironic, for a speedster).
And while I’ve talked about how he uses adjectives a lot, I find that interesting because he means he doesn’t have to be quite as short and declarative in his sentences. For instance, when he says “cool skateboard” to that kid in Flashpoint (and notice he softens this whole interaction even more by adding ‘though’ at the end), we can contrast that to someone like Mick, who uses simple declarative sentences for his preferences a lot, and would probably say “I like your skateboard” instead. When it comes to matters of taste and preference, Wally doesn’t state, he describes.
And in an amongst a lot of the other things I’ve said about his word choice, sentence length, cutting to the heart of issues, and phrasing things as questions, this gifset (and the sentence at the bottom) really showcases all of that in one place and also puts something else in perspective: Wally, especially when emotional, is comfortable going on for a few (long) sentences at a time. Although short sentences or a single-sentence-at-a-time is perfectly common, don’t hesitate to write him going off for a while when needed, especially if he’s upset and calling people out.
And okay, I think that’s all I’ve got for now. I hope this helps. There’s probably more to say about his speech (of course there is) but with any luck, this will provide a good starting place for people who aren’t sure how to write him.
Been rewatching Young Justice and I have 2 head cannons now:
1) After 1x9 and 1x20 Artemis carries extra food for Wally in her utility belt when he’s running low on energy or he’s just plain hungry during a mission.
2) The flash drive in 2x9 that explains why Aqualad blew up Mount Justice and all that jazz also had a video from Artemis to Wally saying she misses and loves him, to take care of Brucely and not to worry about her(and more cute sappy things).
If people don’t like or ship Iris and Barry together, that’s fine! Really. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea. Some may find it predictable, or like it’s been done before, and that’s fine. But if you don’t like them, for whatever reason, be honest! Don’t try and make up reasons that falsely bend the narrative, and don’t use words like, ‘abuse’ which you obviously have no idea about, if you’re using that term so loosely, because you’d rather another ship over them.
Westallen is not, and has never been abusive. What it is, is a ship, that compared to other shows, is very healthy. It’s two people that love and respect, and will always protect each other. It’s also doing something that others shows have failed to do. It’s giving us a healthy interracial relationship, with a black woman, that’s also the lead of the show. That never happens. There are plenty of other shows that consist of a white male lead, with a white female love interest. The Flash is not that!
It’s concerning that we finally have real representation, something that I have been longing for because it’s reflective of real life, and people are labelling it as abusive, when actual abusive ships are ignored, but both male and female are white, so it’s seen as ‘love’.
I see no one calling it abuse that a certain female is being kidnapped, against her will, again. In fact, some are viewing that as, ‘cute.’ But a white man, trying to ask out the black woman that he has loved for years, and that he wants to start fresh with, is ‘abusive.’
If you prefer another ship, fine, but don’t use words that have a detrimental affect, like ‘abuse’ because you rather the white male lead is with another white woman, that he doesn’t even consider more than a friend. Be honest, say you find them boring, say that you rather he be with someone else, in fact, at least have the guts to say that you want him with a white woman, but don’t make up a false narrative when nothing on the show has ever suggested that Westallen is abusive.
I find it concerning that people also label Barry as a stalker, and abusive, yet want him to be with their favourite! If a character was a stalker, or abusive, then never would I want them near my favourite! Please use better terminology, because it’s sickening to have words like that associated with a beautiful, healthy, interracial ship that is based on true love and friendship!