Yo, that’s dope! – Dialogue needs to match the Character

First of all, I never use the word ‘dope’ personally to describe how fun/cool/happening a thing maybe. Ask anyone who knows me, and their eyebrows will reach their hair lines if I ever utter that particular phrase I used in the title. Why? Because, it simply isn’t me! It is not my character, it is not who I am, or how I speak normally; it doesn’t fit me, or with me. So rightly so, several eyebrows will kiss the hairline if given an opportunity.

Since the dialogue doesn’t match my character and personality and upbringing (and yes, that plays a part in it), the outcome is of discomfort. This is the same when we meet certain characters in a story, learn to recognise them etc., and suddenly, when that character says things that don’t fit it… We immediately cringe.

This need to match the dialogue to your characters’ personalities is very important for a reason, and that reason is the suspension of a reader’s reality. Coming across a dialogue that jars and makes us do a double take means we have successfully derailed that reader from the train tracks of story-world. We have rightfully caused a major accident with no hope of rescue team swooping in and cleaning it up so the story-train can move on smoothly. Why? because, once a reader becomes aware of such halting brake in the speed of the story, they will likely be alert for any other onslaught, or be on the look out for them.

Yes, by this point, the reader will actually single out those speed bumps and judge not only the story, but your ability to write. And you don’t want that!

For example: If say, Jack Sparrow character from Pirates of the Caribbean series was to speak like a proper gentleman, that movie would have bombed at the box office – why? Because, the character wasn’t believable. Yes, dialogue does that – makes a character believable, as if they were a solid person standing before us, ones whom can be pinched.

The reason I gave you a movie example is for a visual and audio reason. Dialogue are mostly spoken, so they depend on the ‘sound’ of the words or sentences, the tone of the voice, the pauses in between etc. When we read, we read dialogue not as words on paper, but sounds in our mind. The only things readers read as words are the descriptors, but all dialogue ‘sounds’ out in our minds. Thus, keeping dialogue sounding natural, real, relevant to current times or the period it’s based in, relevant to the place it is set in, and relevant to the ‘person’ that speaks it are all important reasons why all writers should pay special attention to writing dialogue that sounds great, but better yet, fits the characters that utter them.

All I can leave you with today is, keep dialogue natural, and you will find the quality of the story-telling rise multi-folds.

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