Realizing That Speech Patterns are Inconsistent
I’ve been struggling with creating believable teenage dialogue, or ‘teenspeak’ as I like to call it, for awhile now. I felt that I was writing their dialogue just as I’d heard them speak. This week, however, a light bulb came on and I realized something interesting. I wrote their dialogue as I’d heard them speak to me when what I need is to write it as they’d speak to their peers.
We humans are quite the chameleons, especially in our interactions with other humans. Just as adults have various faces they pull out depending on the situation; job, family, social situations, etc., our younger counterparts learn from us and adjust their behavior according to their audience as well. This, of course, includes speech patterns.
My last attempt to find teenagers to eavesdrop on was a dismal failure, but I’m not ready to give up yet. And my realization that they speak differently in different situations is actually something I can use when I change the audience within my stories. There are certain situations where the dialogue I used will actually work since they will, at times, need to speak to adults and assume a more adult-like pattern of speech. But since they, as all teenagers do, spend a lot of time talking to their peers, I need to do further research in order to make proper use of vocabulary, sentence structure and speech cadence. In fact, should I find resources to assist in my quest, I will share them here as I’m probably not alone in struggling with this issue.
Keeping the Goal in Sight
Remembering that my ultimate goal is to not only finish what I’ve started, but to get them into final, publishable form, I have decided that, for the moment, I will focus on fixing the glaring story issues and set aside my quest to render believable dialogue. That is not to say that I am giving up or setting it aside indefinitely. It merely means that in the interests of forward progress, I’ll continue to focus on the story itself, keeping facts and events straight and providing adequate conflicts and challenges for my characters to face and yes, overcome.
All too often, I have allowed issues like this one to stop me from producing anything at all, and the time has come to kill that pattern of behavior once and for all. In the past, if I was working on a large project and got stuck on something, I simply put that section aside and moved on to something else. I see no reason why I can’t or shouldn’t use the same approach towards finishing my writing. At issue, of course, is that I have no clear goal or deadline. I’ve already discovered that, for the most part, self-imposed, arbitrary deadlines are not sufficient. But again, I will keep trying things until I find something that works. Meanwhile, back at the computer, even if my times are shorter until my shoulder/neck/arm issues are fully resolved.
As I’m alternating blog locations, I will include gratitudes here as well so as not to miss too many opportunities:
1. I am grateful that problems and their solutions often lead to unexpected discoveries.
2. I am grateful to be able to sit at the computer and type for more than five minutes without pain.
3. I am grateful for the lovely batch of gazpacho which I created and put in my refrigerator today. It is one less excuse to halt the writing process now.
4. I am grateful for an extra night out with friends, watching some very talented teenagers perform the Broadway version of ‘A Little Mermaid’.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, ideas, motivation, inspiration, joy, happiness, health, harmony, peace, prosperity and philanthropy.