Dialogue and Individual Characters

One of the things that I’ve been paying attention to as I rewrite my middle grade fantasy if my dialogue.  Who are each of my characters and what would someone with these traits sound like?

I’m trying to avoid having all of my characters sound alike.  Not that this is ever good but it would be especially bad given how dis-similar some of my characters are.  I have:

  • One hyper 12-year-old boy who is quick to move but doesn’t always think things through.
  • One super brainy 12-year-old boy who thinks everything through and then thinks it through again.
  • A swim coach.  He wants each swimmer to give their best in every aspect of their life.
  • A teen from the team.  He’s a high schooler.  One of the cool guys, at least as far as the other swimmers are concerned.  He gets on well with both the kids and the adults.
  • A six-year-old bratty little sister who can get by with anything and truly believes she is the center of the universe, both known and unknown.
  • Mom who created the above mentioned brat.
  • Dad who is less tolerant of said brat but picks his battles very carefully.

What factors go into how each of these characters sounds?  I start with age and authority level, interests and attitudes.  My brainy character sounds like a professor.  My hyper character speaks short, fast and assertive.  The Coach has little to say but is very direct.  The high schooler sounds more like the coach than the two younger boys but is easier going than the coach.

For some ideas on how to shape your character dialogue, see the post that Bruce Hale wrote for Susan Uhlig, 4 Ways to Make Your Characters “Talk Different.” 

–SueBE

 

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