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Thread: What Your Characters Say

  1. #1
    All I Ever Wanted Was The World Violeta's Avatar
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    What Your Characters Say

    You know when you remember a character, or a book,
    that made such an impression on you that you remember
    some of their best quotes months, or even years, after
    reading them?

    And I'm not talking only about classics such as Gone with
    the Wind (loved it, btw), but recent novels from these past years as well.

    My question is; do you ever wonder how could that writer think of those
    memorable quotes their characters said?

    I know it all comes down to creating realistic, believable characters, but I find it difficult to imagine
    my characters ever being that witty, or funny, or wise, or even opportunistic! I don't know... I'm only
    on my first draft, but still, I can't imagine such brilliance coming out of my mind. I think that would be one
    of my favourite/greatest accomplishments, should I ever get there.

    So, have you gotten there? Do you want to?
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  2. #2
    Not a new kid folkchick's Avatar
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    I think I've gotten there. There are times when little revelations my characters have made come back and echo in my head. But I didn't push for those lines, they almost always came at a time when I was deep in writing mode where all sort of unconscious sludge slips out. My favorite author manages a few in each book. They really stick out, and I find myself pulling away with a big, "Whoaaaa."
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  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW emmyshimmy's Avatar
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    I would love to get there, but I have my doubts about my skills as well. I've been told dialog is one of my strong points, but my characters never sound as amazing as some of my favorites from other authors.
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  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW Summerwriter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Violeta View Post
    You know when you remember a character, or a book,
    that made such an impression on you that you remember
    some of their best quotes months, or even years, after
    reading them?

    My question is; do you ever wonder how could that writer think of those
    memorable quotes their characters said?

    I know it all comes down to creating realistic, believable characters, but I find it difficult to imagine
    my characters ever being that witty, or funny, or wise, or even opportunistic! I don't know... I'm only
    on my first draft, but still, I can't imagine such brilliance coming out of my mind.
    So, have you gotten there? Do you want to?
    I know the feeling, and I probably won't be able to write such lines.
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  5. #5
    Like Burt Reynolds in Gator JayMan's Avatar
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    I have a number of quotable lines in my current WIP. It's part of what I'm hoping will convince agents and publishers to accept my work, once I reach that stage.

    Most of the time when I write these, it's not because I'm trying to be "deep" or "quotable" but because I'm writing with utmost sincerity, and in those moments I produce some good lines.

  6. #6
    The Little Aspie That Could KaiaSonderby's Avatar
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    I'm pretty good with dialogue, especially the witty kind. But it's not really something I plan. I have a smart mouth as it is, and when I'm writing, I just let fly whatever comes into my head, a lot of the time. Sometimes it's like having a really snarky conversation with myself.

    I don't encounter unforgettable dialogue very often (in fact to me, the best dialogue is the stuff that sounds like what every day people would say)--unless of course it's unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. I encounter plenty of that.
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  7. #7
    She Who Constantly Changes Avatars CJ Knightrey's Avatar
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    I can't really think of any lines off of the top of my head that I've written that would be considered 'quotable', but I did have a moment where my MC came to a realization at the same time I did. I think that's the closest time I've ever come to writing something memorable. .. if that makes sense at all, haha.

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  8. #8
    More cowbell! randi.lee's Avatar
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    I love one-liners. I sprinkle them all over my WIP like salt. I'm hoping some of them are quotable, but if they aren't--hey, at least I'm entertained
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  9. #9
    Benefactor Member Manuel Royal's Avatar
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    I'd strongly advise you not to worry too much about that in a first draft. Often I'm still feeling out the character, deciding on contours, features and flaws, while writing the first draft. Once I'm doing revisions, I've got a stronger picture of the character in my mind, and can tweak the dialogue. The really good lines seem to come then.
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  10. #10
    All I Ever Wanted Was The World Violeta's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice, Manuel!!

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks about these things.
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  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW
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    It's hard to second-guess what will resonate with readers and impossible to 'write for the ages'. So I wouldn't worry about it.

  12. #12
    My rhymes are bottomless Hip-Hop-a-potamus's Avatar
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    I used to suck at dialogue.

    It wasn't until I just started writing whatever that came into my head when I thought it that it started improving, just based on what I thought a character like mine (a guttersnipe silent movie actress) would say. I didn't know if I'd keep it, I just wanted to get through the scene with something resembling action and dialogue.

    I started my WIP in the 3rd person, and read another book in the meantime that really helped me gel my character's voice in my head (a book on women writers in the 1920s. Amazing find!). After that, my character insisted on telling her story in the first person. And then, I became a virtual machine, churning out one liners right and left. I couldn't figure out where they came from half the time.

    I watched a lot of old 1920s and 1930s films, and combed my slang dictionary for great phrases I could either use straight or tweak a bit to get just the right sound. It really helped!

    Another thing? I NEVER worry about this in the first draft. Since I am writing about real people, I worry about getting the bones of the story in, arranging them, re-arranging them (the scenes without as much punch get shelved), THEN I go through and adapt the voices to the characters. It has helped me SO MUCH not to stress about the writing of the characters right off the bat. That comes as the story takes shape.
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  13. #13
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin CBright's Avatar
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    I think it would be very difficult (if not impossible) to judge which lines will be remembered years from now. I doubt that the authors who have accomplished it even expected it from their own works.
    Also, like Manuel said, it shouldn't be something to worry about in the first draft. I'm in my first draft and today I wrote a line that made me go "Oh! What a beauty!" However, I'll probably look at it tomorrow and say. "Eww! That's horrible!"

  14. #14
    Romance Novelist & Freelance Editor Calle Jay's Avatar
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    I think quotable lines evolve from characters that are worth remembering. Rather than focusing on dialogue that may be remembered years from now, I'd work on characters. Fleshed out characters create fleshed out dialogue.

    I mean, would Scarlett's words have been so d***ed memorable if Scarlett hadn't been so memorable, and if the words said in that exact moment hadn't fit her character and the situation so perfectly?

    Think movies, for instance..."You had me at hello.", "Nobody puts Baby in the Corner", Or "You can't handle the truth!" just to name a few off the top of my head. I bet most people can name the movies these came from.

    They're effective, memorable quotes because they fit the characters and the situations so perfectly.

    Once you have the well-developed characters, you'll just KNOW when the dialogue fits.
    Last edited by Calle Jay; 05-03-2012 at 08:09 AM. Reason: missing word

  15. #15
    All I Ever Wanted Was The World Violeta's Avatar
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    Those tips are great, thanks guys!

    I think you all are right, I'll have a better sense of my characters after spending
    an entire draft with them, so it doesn't seem necessary to overwhelm myself with that at this point.
    |We are all works in progress.
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
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  16. #16
    figuring it all out
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    I believe that it is really down to connecting with your character(s) at such a level that they take over and then they come up with the magic. It comes from (or through) your subconscious. (Maybe it even comes from somewhere else.) I've had moments where my characters surprised me. A lot!!!! But those moments are so humbling...
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  17. #17
    They've been very bad, Mr Flibble Mr Flibble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffysquirrel View Post
    It's hard to second-guess what will resonate with readers and impossible to 'write for the ages'. So I wouldn't worry about it.
    This - although I try to write good lines, as best I can, so it's not exactly don't worry about it

    Small embarrassing anecdote:

    It was my birthday over the weekend and my SIL made me a cake, in the shape of a book, natch. On one side it said Happy Birthday, on the other side, it had a quote, obviously from a book. 'Nice quote' I said, 'It rings a bell, but where's it from?'.....

    From my own first book, and I didn't recognise it. SIL, however, thought such a good line, she'd memorised it...Which was very nice. But I'm never going to live it down that I didn't remember it....(I wrote that book years ago!)




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  18. #18
    #Soon TNK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Violeta View Post

    My question is; do you ever wonder how could that writer think of those
    memorable quotes their characters said?
    I have wondered, but I try not to think about it. If I did, my insecurities would get the best of me and I'd end up like this:

    And if that happened I'd never get any work done. I'd spend every moment second guessing myself.

  19. #19
    All I Ever Wanted Was The World Violeta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdiotsRUs View Post
    But I'm never going to live it down that I didn't remember it....(I wrote that book years ago!)
    LOL That was fun. I don't have anything like that to be embarrased about, I'm still too new at this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
    Writers gonna write.

  20. #20
    All I Ever Wanted Was The World Violeta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNK View Post
    If I did, my insecurities would get the best of me and I'd end up like this:
    Exactly how I feel .
    Right now I have plenty to worry about with getting the first draft done and all. But fortunately(?),
    dialogue isn't even in my top ten list of worries . I actually think it's the only thing that's going
    smoothly at this point, even if there are no memorable quotes in there .
    |We are all works in progress.
    ____________|YA ~ ||--|| ~ YA|____________
    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
    Writers gonna write.

  21. #21
    All I Ever Wanted Was The World Violeta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravenmuse View Post
    I've had moments where my characters surprised me.
    Yeah, me too!!
    Sometimes it's a nice surprise, others not so much... I have a
    character whom I wanted to be the "best-friend/nice guy" kind of type.
    Turns out he doesn't feel like it .
    |We are all works in progress.
    ____________|YA ~ ||--|| ~ YA|____________
    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
    Writers gonna write.

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