Saturday, July 28, 2012

Stops and Dialogue

Hello everyone. Glad to be back on the blog with you. Hope the start of your weekend is going well. We’re going to go over a few things today. I’ll start with a short bit about language and how the different letters make different sounds that do different things concerning emotional responses which can really help with how a piece reads. After that, I’ll write to you a little bit about dialogue.
            As we’re going through the phonetics chart we’ll probably tackle it in sections. Feel free to download the picture of the chart that I uploaded last time. I like to have it visible on the screen when I write about it.
         In this post, I want to write about the “Stops.” If you’ll notice, the “Stops” section has two lines for its place of articulation. To explain articulation, let me have you do this. Say, P. Did you notice that when you said “P,” both your lips came together to produce the sound? You’ll find that, b uses the same part of the mouth. So lips being labial (in Latin, I think) plus bi, means two lips. You’ll notice that m on the chart is also bilabial, but is not a “Stop.” We’ll go into it later.
          Now, say t or d and pay attention to how it feels when your mouth makes the sound. Feel your toungue on the roof your mouth? That’s what is called Alveolar,  therefore we have t and d which are Alveolar stops.
          Now, pay attention to the Velar Stops. K as in king, or c as in crack!, and g as in go, not g as in gee, that’s a different sound. We’ll discuss that later. I’m still researching that funny little letter under glottal, but we’ll get back to that later, or maybe if you’re the one insane person who is reading this part of the blog, you’ll want to research this too.
             Now here’s what I want to show you. Read the following sentence aloud:
             Slow yourself, alright. You really must live easy, pacing yourself is nice.
        You’ll notice that I’m not using passive language here so this sentence still has some strength. But say the next one aloud and tell me you don’t notice the difference.

Stop, okay. You must take life slow and find a good groove.

        You’ll notice there are only 3 sounds from the stop group in the first sentence, but there are 11 stop sounds in the second sentence. Say them both. Doesn’t the second have a harder, more urgent sound to it? Also, you’ll notice I did not use any “ing” sounds in the second sentence. Often, “ing” sounds can slow a sentence like an “ly” sound can, but sometimes they add rhythm. Like, “was walking and talking and chewing and falling, ‘cause I was doing too much thinking.”
         Well, that wraps up the section on sounds in language for today.

Okay, now for a bit about dialogue.

Here’s a crappy dialogue.

Sarah, how are you today?” I exclaimed excitedly!

“I am fine. It is a nice day today, is it not?” Sarah said very happily.

“It is very pretty today, and it is going to get nicer, I have heard. It is what the radio said,” I told her nervously.

“My friends and I will be going to a picnic later. We will all have a great time. It is at the house that John lives in. We do not date anymore,” she bashfully told me.

It’s not just bad because it’s boring. It’s bad because it is not dialogue. People don’t speak like that. Now watch, I’ll change this terrible dialogue to speech, then we’ll address those awful dialogue tags.

Sarah, how’re you?” I exclaimed excitedly!

“I’m fine. It’s a nice day, isn’t it?” Sarah said very happily.

“It’s pretty today, and I’ve heard it’s gonna get nicer. That’s what the radio said,” I told her nervously.

“My friends and I’ll be going to a picnic later. We’ll all have a great time. It’s at the house that John lives in. We don’t date anymore,” she bashfully told me.

Do you see the difference a syncope can make? Like ‘cause instead of because. Now, of course, you don’t want to do this for every character all the time, but we all use contractions or a syncope somewhere in our speech. No one speaks that awful form of grammar they teach us in highschool.

Now for the next part. Dialogue tags. 

Sarah, how’re you?” I asked.

Sarah smiled at me and said, “I’m fine. It’s a nice day, isn’t?”

looked at my feet and shuffled them, then back at her and said with a face full of crimson, “It’s pretty today, and I’ve it’s going to get nicer. That’s what the radio said.” Sarah’s smile got bigger and I swear I saw a twinkle in them.

“My friends and I’ll be going to a picnic later. We’ll all have a great time. It’s at the house that John lives in. We don’t date anymore,” She said, and her face turned red as mine. We looked away from each other, and the silence between us grew.

Now, arguably, this belongs in a bad YA novel, but answer honestly, which of these three dialogues would you rather read? I’ll choose the third because the contractions make the speech more normal and the dialogue tags aren’t as ridiculous the second time around. Truthfully, try to stick to she/he said or asked. Leave that exclaimed and shouted and yelled that hold hands with bad adverbs out as much as possible. They kill dialogue, although sometimes, we are stuck with them and when we are, it’s fine.

Anyway, I hope this helps you. By the way, I should be over 40,000 new words into the summer novel and at least five or six poems into the new chapbook by the end of the weekend.

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