Thursday, September 17, 2015

Character Enunciation

The way we talk helps give all of us personality.  It's one of the main ways people identify us, so shouldn't it play a big part in any story?

The problem comes from how you portray this.  With rare exception, any writer that tries to display an accent in print is going to walk away looking like an idiot.  One can only write, "How de ye like de taste of me soop" so many times before the reader gets irritated.  It's easier on both the writer and the audience to write, "How do you like the taste of my soup?" she asked in a thick Scottish accent.

However, there's something to be said for the way a character speaks.  This adds personality, so there's got to be a way to portray it.

I try to do so without going overboard.  I might use "gonna" instead of "going to," just like I might use "coulda" instead of "could've."  I also toss in things like a character never using contractions or engaging with unnecessarily long words.  Either of these techniques can denote either redneckery(yes, I just made that word up - YAY ME!) or snobbery.  After all, when someone chooses to pronounce every single syllable and will not stoop so low as to willingly use contractions, that shows they are more aware of their language and status in life(imagine I just said the previous sentence while lifting my chin slightly).

It's a balance, but it can't be ignored, for the way we speak is such a big part of how others see us.  Therefore, it has to be part of our writing as well.  Sure, you could ignore it and describe every aspect with an abundance of adjectives and adverbs, but that can also get tedious.  Besides which, isn't that a bit lazy?  We should try and stretch ourselves as writers to see if we can demonstrate linguistic personality rather than simply talk about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment