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Character through dialogue

Banes at 12:00AM, Feb. 7, 2019
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Dialogue is a vital part of a comic, book or movie.

Well - usually it is. There are surely some comics out there who have none. There's prose, such as many children's stories or fables that are all or mostly action and description - and since the rise of sound in movies ('the talkie'!)…well, there's usually…yeah. You see what I'm saying. Generally, characters are going to be talking at some point.

An easy trap a writer can fall into is having all their characters sounds like the writer, or how the writer wants to sound.

As you're figuring out your Protagonist, Antagonist, Sidekicks, Mentors, Love Interests and Bit Players, fleshing out those characters in whatever way you go about it, it can be worth figuring out some little quirks and personality to their dialogue. It might happen naturally as you develop the characters. But if it doesn't, you could try:

- giving them a little verbal tic or habitual word they say.

“Jehosephat.” (Elijah Baley)
“Fascinating.” (Spock)
“Humbug!” (Ebenezer Scrooge)

- some classic comic characters would say one word in their native tongue, to remind us where they're from. While speaking English the rest of the time. So “Ja”, “Da”, “Nyet” and “mon chere” would show up a lot from certain nationalities. A bit cheesy, maybe. But it worked!

- Maybe they ask a lot of rhetorical questions, which they answer themselves. Or they bark out the name of their assistant constantly.

Going a bit deeper, you can think about whether your character is mostly optimistic or pessimistic. Or whether they're Logical-minded or Creative-minded. Stuff like that.

Giving a little quirk to some of your characters (maybe not all, but some) can be a nice way to set them apart and enrich your stories and the people in them.


…Savvy?



Have a good one!

-Banes

comment

anonymous?

usedbooks at 3:11PM, Feb. 7, 2019

I LOVE writing dialogue. It's my most favorite thing. The trick for me is that dialogue is not just about each character. Basically each pairing or group of characters form a separate dynamic and molds the dialogue. People become slightly different depending on who is on the other side of the conversation and what the setting is. For example, around strangers, Seiko is meek and courteous; around contentious people, she hones calculated diplomacy skills; around friends, she is biting and sarcastic. Kaida speaks kindly of her brother -- unless he is present. Mike is the same in public, private, with strangers or friends (giving him endearing sincerity, albeit a sincere pessimist). A "villain" might be the most generous and kind person in 90% of settings but devious/controlling around criminal colleagues (or when confronting a "good guy"). Monologues and inner voices have their own flavor as well. It's the combination of these impressions that forms the deeper dimensions of a character.

mks_monsters at 12:26PM, Feb. 7, 2019

Well, I know sometimes who is talking can get confusing which is why I colour speech bubbles, but I also give everyone their own way of talking. Jekyll is very passive, Hyde tends to use "clean cursing", Utterson speaks nobly yet boldly and Poole gives words of wisdom.

Hapoppo at 11:05AM, Feb. 7, 2019

I kind of have a ping-pong pattern of developing a character's voice. First I design their looks based on how I see their personalities, then based on their looks I start to get an idea of how they talk. The voice starts to unearth character traits, and I'll tweak the character's design around those features. I'd personally advise against using verbal ticks or other manufactured traits on any non-minor characters, since exposing the reader to enough of those sorts of traits can make them feel artificial.


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