Sunday, 26 October 2008

Dialogue, characters, and stock words

Links on Tell Me a Story


Stock words
in Dialogue

Sometimes it’s a good idea to give your central characters a phrase or a few stock words of dialogue, which are theirs and theirs alone. It can help identify and it sets characters apart. It happens in real life so why not in your story. We all know people who have this habit – in fact, we probably all do it to a greater or less extent - take a listen to your own dialogue sometime.

Let your character(s) repeat the words on odd occasions so the reader gradually identifies them, BUT don’t do it too often, or you could make them sound slightly crazy. If your heroine is bouncy and thinks life is “terrific”, you shouldn’t make it her stock answer to every situation, better to use the term intermittently, so readers increasingly recognize the tendency.

Identifying the speaker by dialogue

Carefully consider the words and phrases before you ‘tag’ a protagonist with them. Make sure it’s in keeping with character and social class. Remember, don’t over-do it, but do bear in mind this really is an uncomplicated way to identify the character.

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