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All Things Writing > Speech pattern

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message 1: by G.G. (last edited Jul 31, 2014 02:04PM) (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 1053 comments Mod
Ok... when we write our characters we like to give them different speech patterns. For example, my MC has problems with English contractions so he avoids using them.

I'm currently writing a sub-story where the MC isn't on Earth, thus isn't speaking English but his own language.

My question might sound stupid but here it goes.

What should I do? Should I use his usual speech pattern (the one the readers are used to, the no contraction rule) or should I let him speak normally (dialogues and narrative) or maybe a mix (normal dialogues with no contraction narratives) since the story is written in English after all...

Help!!! Any input would be appreciated.

message 2: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Pemrick This is a good question! I've been sitting here for 10 minutes trying to figure out how to answer, haha. It'd be easier on your readers if that's what they're used to reading, but it makes more sense for him to just talk the way he's used to. I'm thinking mixing it up might work. It could show that his time on earth has effected his speech.

message 3: by Brian (new)

Brian Basham (brianbasham) | 390 comments I would suggest that you use his normal speach patterns because a straight translation might look strange in it's structure. You're already going to be doing quite a bit of interpretation for your readers as it is. I would suggest that you throw in an alien word that has no real equivalent in English to remind your readers that the character is speaking an alien language. Of course you will have to do your best to explain what the alien word means for your readers.

message 4: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 1053 comments Mod
1- Usually when there are short instances where the language is supposed to be different than English (yet written in English) I put it in italic. However, in this instance, since the whole story would be in another language, italic is not an option.

2- Although this story happens before book 1, it will be something that should ideally be read between 1 and 2 or after 2 but not before 1. (It's a complement to book one and could be an introduction to some characters in book 2 if read before or some further explanations if read after.) I know it may not make much sense told this way.

@Shannon The story happens in a time before he ever came to Earth. (He didn't know English then.)

@Brian I do like the idea of the foreign alien word mixed in. Although if read after book one, the readers should have no problem understanding that the language isn't English.

@Bryan The problem is, it's in first POV so both kind of merge. I'm not sure I know my own natural story-telling voice since the only thing I've written so far were in 'his' voice.

message 5: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Pemrick Bryan don't go! You're not alone! Don't leave us crazy people! Haha.

@G.G. That's good to know actually. Since it's supposed to take place before book one, if it were me in your shoes, I'd have him speak they he's used to on his own planet (or where ever he in space). If your readers have read book one I think they'll understand.

message 6: by R. (new)

R. Jackson-Lawrence | 54 comments I would say keep the style that the reader is used to, otherwise they can get confused and/or pulled out of the story unintentionally.

just my opinion!

message 7: by Bisky (last edited Aug 01, 2014 08:04AM) (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
If the story is short, you could make the language he uses a little more formal. Say around a military situation? Where everything is alittle more analytical.

There will be a flashback in a certain book *cough* before the language like english was invented, but I've only kept a slightly formal twist it in their actual speech. Bit like modern and oldetimes english.

Or you could keep it in his usual speech pattern and make it a diary entry translation? I dunno, it's where my mind went :p

message 8: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra Lawson | 91 comments I would recommend throwing in a section where he is speaking English. Perhaps have him tell someone how to say something in English. Then you can have him thin about how much harder it is to speak naturally in English.

In my opinion, his speech should flow more naturally in his own language. The exception would be if you are planning to mention somehow that his language does not have contractions. In that case, I would have him consider, or even mention how different his language is from English.

message 9: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 1053 comments Mod
@Cassandra To include hints about the English language would be hard since he didn't know it even existed in the time this story happens.

I'm just starting the story. The idea is still developing so I'll have plenty of time to change my mind if I find a better way to do it. For now, I guess I will keep 'his English voice' since the book is written in English anyway.

Thanks everyone for your valuable input!

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