tvd: dialogue


Learning the voice of a character is something that will take a lot of time. If you listen to people around you, everyone has different ways of speaking. You need to take into account word choices, tone, and accents.

Word Choice

Think about the people you know in your own life. You probably have someone who almost always uses contractions when they speak. A friend who refuses to curse. Some people have common phrases that come up a lot. My roommate starts 90% of his sentences with, “Oh yeah”. “Oh yeah, did you need your phone charger?” “Oh yeah, you left your tea in the living room.” I have a friend who, instead of saying goodbye always says “Make good choices”.

You’ll find people say “yep”, and other people say, “yeah” and other people say “yes”. Some people say “Hello”, “hey”, “howdy”, “hey there”, “hi”. There’s “okay”, “okedoke”, “alrighty”, “mkay”.

Take note of how each character individually speaks. Often, you’ll find families tend to sound relatively similar. Children learn to speak from their parents. In modern times, a lot of children pick up on how to speak from the television, so they might sound similar to their favorite tv show character. Also keep in mind, you don’t have to justify WHY you’re character sounds a certain way. Your readers don’t need explanations, but you should have some idea where their language came from.

The words a person uses is also influenced by their education. A young, unwealthy girl in a rural community shouldn’t be using very sophisticated words, while the CEO of a major company in an urban setting shouldn’t be speaking slang. It also is depending on who they are speaking to. It’s typical to hear a mother say, “Baby want more yum-yum?” to her toddler, and then turn to her husband and talk about the complex work she finished at her physics lab that morning.


I mumble. More than half the things I say go unheard by the people right next to me. My boyfriend, however, has an incredibly loud voice. If I were a character in your novel, you’d probably end my dialogues with: she muttered, she mumbled, she said to herself. If my boyfriend was a character, it would probably be more of: he boomed, he called. Characters often use specific tones that fit their personalities.


Where are they from? Don’t just put an accent on a character to create a different voice, you don’t need it. If you do have a character from a certain part of the world, you’ll want to fit that accent to them. Some words are specific to regions as well: “mate” “rubbish”

Sometimes, you can type an accent. “Don’ ya think ya’ve had enough fer tanight?” “Let’s go see zee ‘ouses.” “Ist fery ‘ard to zee zat picture”.

When you write in accents, you need to know the language well enough to portray it, as well as being able to get the point across of what your reader is trying to say.

How to Improve:

Take a notepad with you places, and eavesdrop on conversations. Listen to how people say things, not what they’re saying.  Another exercise could be asking stranger the same question.

For example:
“Do you know how to get to the 1 train from here?”
You’ll probably get similar answers, but they’ll all sound different. “Right up that way.” “Straight ahead.” “Just keep going, man.” You might also get people saying they don’t know. “Not sure, sorry.” “No clue.” “I think I saw one not far back.” “You should ask a police officer or something.” “I’m not from ‘round here, sorry.”

Best of luck and happy writing,

anonymous asked:

Yo beast! Do you have any tips on how to write dialogue for a fast-talking character?

Generally when writing dialogue, you want to write out out the character as speaking phonetically. If the character is articulate, then you’d write out finished words and phrases and you wouldn’t if they were less articulate. You also want to keep in mind the complexity of any of the words that those characters would be saying, depending on their personality and how “articulate” they would be as well as integrating their physical actions with the dialogue. Remember that just because someone uses less ‘finished’ words and slang (gonna, ya, nah, etc etc), that it doesn’t make them any less intelligent - this goes for characters too. Example:

  • “I’m not gonna do jack shit,” he growled, spitting at the feet of the group of soldiers before him. “Piss off, the lot of ya - before I beat some sense into those damned metal heads of yers.”
  • “I won’t take kindly to orders by force,” he replied calmly, laying his hand slowly on the hilt of his sheathed foil. “I will repeat myself once more - and slowly this time - so that you oaf-brained fools can process what I am about to say: carry on with your duties before I cut your days short.”

It’s the same situation - a character is facing multiple soldiers/guards, and is refusing to do what the guards say by threatening them with force. However, you get a very different sense of the personalities of these characters - simply by the way they speak and what their actions are following each bit of dialogue.

In your case, you’d want to give the impression that your character talks very quickly. It’s the same process that I did above - you can slur their speech, mirror the dialogue through their actions, and depending on the character’s personality, pick and choose the complexity of the words you want them to use. You can also manipulate the punctuation to your advantage. Example:

  • “I hope it’s not too much to ask but I was wondering if you could - if you could help me with this because I have no idea what I’m doing,” she uttered all in one breath, holding up the contraption so that Lila could see. Lila opened her mouth to respond, but Mira kept going. The girl had a motor mouth with only a gas pedal. “And if I could get this all done by the sundown - er, sundown - because I’m really really busy and I don’t have time to sit down and learn and I’d really appreciate it if you could show me please.”
  • “L-look you’re a busy man and I wasn’t gonna impose on ya but I-I noticed that y’wanted to figure the angles of the core based on the position of the dial’s arms,” he muttered, flitting about the cabin and stumbling over various junk parts cast over the floor as he spoke.

People who have a habit of talking quickly often don’t notice that they’re doing so, which you can also use to your advantage with your other characters around them. This is where you want to use run on sentences like I did above, or even just avoid using proper punctuation altogether. Adding in breaks like I did in the first example or stammers like I did in the second can also make your readers think that your characters are actually stumbling over their own words because they’re speaking so quickly.

‘Mom, shouldn’t you be the one to help dad with this? I…I have very important homework to do.’

'Yeah, right,’ my mom said.

'This is pathetic. You guys are both highly trained veterinarians,’ I pointed out. 'How can you be scared of skunks?’

'I didn’t used to be,’ my father said darkly. 'Back before…before the incident.’

'Just because one skunk sprayed you -’

'In the face,’ he said.

'Just because you had one bad experience -’

'He sprayed me six times in about three seconds,’ he said. 'I smelled for a week. Your mother made me sleep in the barn. Except the other animals there all became agitated, so I had to set up a tent in the yard.’

'Then we had to burn the tent,’ my mother added. She giggled.

'You do have a way with skunks,’ my father said. 'Actually, you have a way with all animals. Come on, you know skunks love you.’

'A burned skunk by the side of a highway loves no one,’ I said.
—  Book #9: The Secret, pg. 51 (by K.A. Applegate)
‘These aren’t hooves, Elfangor,’ she said. 'They’re shoes. See?’ She untied the ropes and before I could stop her, she ripped the white hoof clear off!

❮Noooo!❯ I moaned.

❮Ahhhh!❯ Arbron yelled.

But Loren was not in pain. And there was no blood. Then she removed a layer of white skin from the exposed leg end. Suddenly, I was staring at five tiny pink fingers. They were growing from her leg.

'See? This is my foot. We don’t have hooves. And we wear shoes over our feet. See? They keep the rocks or whatever from hurting our feet.’

I felt a wave of intense pity. What had gone wrong in the evolution of this species? The entire species had to cover its 'feet’ to keep from being injured?
—  The Andalite Chronicles, pg. 40 (by K.A. Applegate)
Dialogue and all of its antics

“Ah, dialogue,” I sigh, leaning back with a bemused smile.  "What makes or breaks a story.“

(It is, you know.)  

Dialogue, when it’s done right, can add that extra spice that keeps your readers turning pages.  Words, as I presume you know, are powerful.  The things a character says and they way that they say it can define them more than you may think.  Observe, if you would:

He was confused.


"I don’t know what to do,” he whispered.

Now, is it just me, or does the second one–the one, you know, with dialogue–tell more of a story?  Which one did you read and “feel” the character?  With dialogue, you can create all kinds of feelings–without ever telling the reader what’s going on!  

That’s why it’s important to know how to format those fun little speaking bits.  When I read other people’s pieces, it seems as though dialogue is either a hit-or-miss situation.  In that light, here’s a kind of guide for dialogue with the placing of punctuation.

FIRSTLY:  If you look at most published novels, as you may have already noticed, dialogue starts by indenting the line.  It’s a new paragraph–treat it as such!

Simple sentence:

“I didn’t know it was National Novel Writing Month,” he said.

Note:  Comma is inside the quotation marks.  The period ends the sentence. 

With a exclamation/question mark:

“I didn’t know it was National Novel Writing Month!” he cried.

“It’s National Novel Writing Month?” he gasped.

Note:  Once again, the exclamation/question mark is inside the quotes.  The following “he” is NOT CAPITALIZED because the sentence is not over.  

Interrupting your character:

“I don’t know,” she hesitated.  "Writing 50,000 words in a month seems like it requires super human skill.“


"I don’t know,” she hesitated, “writing 50,000 words in a month seems like it requires super human skill.” 

Note:  Here, again–the comma is still in your quotes.  You can either end it with a period after “hesitated,” OR, you can continue the sentence with a comma–notice that “writing” is not capitalized, as you haven’t ended the sentence yet.

(Pleeeeeasseeeee) DO NOT:

“hi what’s up” she said.

 I know what I’m doing ” she said!

“I’m a total genius”, she beamed “I could do this all day”. 

She said The cat is a demon like me./She said the cat is a demon like me.

Think of dialogue as a sentence with a impassive narrating voice in the background and funny little bunny ears all up in the corners.  Though a character may be doing the talking, you’re the one recording it.  And that’s all you do.  You, as the reporter, have no emotion.  (Rip out your hearts now, everyone.)  You may see and record emotion, but it’s not yours.  You do not get an exclamation point.  You don’t question anything.  With dialogue, you’re just a bystander.  "What’s with all the blood?“ he said.   "Holy man!  You ripped out your heart!” he blanched.  "That’s just sick,“ he muttered, turning quite pale.  His questions.   His hysteria.  You’re just the guy with the pen in your hand and blood on your shirt.

You have a sentence–it’s your sentence.  You’re simply filling it with what others are saying–with their sentences.  I suppose you could think of the comma/question mark/exclamation point as their "period,” thus end, of their sentence–and then it’s in your hands to end it officially.  It’s a sentence within a sentence, if you would.  But it’s YOUR sentence.  You end it–not your characters.  Be in control!  

Questions?  Did that make any sense?  How do YOU dialogue? 

❮We’re still our old selves, aren’t we? I mean, we haven’t changed. Not really. No matter what, right?❯

❮Sure, Marco.❯

❮No, I mean it.❯ I realized I had grown very serious. I don’t know why, but I wanted Jake to agree with me. It was important to me. ❮We’re still just us. Nothing that happens can really change what you are. Right?❯

We flapped side-by-side back to the others.

❮Look, Marco,❯ Jake said wearily. ❮I’m not exactly a philosopher, okay?❯

❮Yeah. Well, I’m me, no matter what,❯ I said defiantly. ❮No matter how many morphs, no matter how many battles. No matter what. I’ll still be me. Everyone better accept that.❯

Jake laughed a little. ❮Marco, if it makes you feel any better, you’ll always just be a punk to me.❯
—  Book #15: The Escape, pg. 33 (by K.A. Applegate)

Yaaaay, I finished an animation test for Eric’s class!

❮Do you see the stars at night?❯ she asked me.

‘When Mother Sky is dark, she shows us her flowers.’

❮Well, each of those flowers is a star. Like your own sun. Only very far away.❯

Jagil said, 'No.’

But I said, 'Sun is sun. Mother Sky’s flowers are flowers.’

❮They may look like bright flowers. But they are suns. Hundreds of suns. Thousands. Mil…I mean that there are more stars than there are trees. They look small because they are far away.❯

I heard these words. And these words made me think very hard. But then…

'Yes,’ I said suddenly, amazed. 'Yes! Things that are far away look small. This is true.’

'Far is far,’ Jagil said, looking alarmed.

❮These stars are very, very far away,❯ Aldrea said. ❮And around some of these stars are planets. Like this place. Other places with very different trees. And different creatures.❯

I felt…I did not have words for how I felt. Things that are far away seem small. Even when they are large. This idea was like an exploding seed pod in my head.
—  The Hork Bajir-Chronicles, pg. 25 (by K.A. Applegate)
It’s kind of strange where our mistakes can take us in life. My parents taught me everything happens for a reason and when things go wrong it’s hard to believe that but over the years I’ve tried to keep to that basic principal. That’s not to say you can go out and be an ass hole and blame it on “everything happens for a reason”. No what I’m saying is even our mistakes and misfortunes can lead us to beautiful place where we find wealth and even maybe love. I’ve fucked up my share of relationships and I’ve been through heart break and depression. Hell, I still might be depressed I’m not too sure. But at the end of all those times something good has happened. Next time you’re in a good mood I suggest you think about what might have put you in that mood and reflect and let it humble you. Bad things do happen, but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen for good reasons.
—  Me. Hope to plug this into a film here pretty soon.


if i ever met satan the first thing i would say is “did it hurt…when you fell from heaven??” It would be hilarious. The next thing I would do is probably burst into flame and get impaled dozens of times but it would still be hilarious


Jake raised an eyebrow. ‘Okay, I think we may have to put a limit on the number of nut jokes. This is serious.’

Marco made a deprecating noise. 'Nah. This isn’t serious.’

'Every time we start to take something for granted we end up getting hammered,’ Jake warned. He grinned in anticipation. 'We’d have to be nuts to get careless.’

No one laughed.

'I say, we’d have to be nuts…oh, fine. Don’t laugh. I don’t care.’
—  Book #17: The Underground, pg. 31 (by K.A. Applegate)