PDA

View Full Version : Language in a Story



JVarvara
01-14-2007, 09:13 AM
Have you ever proofread a story you've written and thought "Nobody in the world speaks like this"? I tend to obsess over this detail.

As a writer, is it more important to sound polished and educated or realistic? Most of the short stories I write deal with teenagers, who have an English language all their own. My writing tries to mirror their spoken language as realistically as possible.

So which method do you prefer: To be grammatically correct or to replicate the sometimes grammatically incorrect incoherent language of people? And where do you draw the line between the two, if a line is indeed drawn?

maestrowork
01-14-2007, 09:19 AM
Dialogue should sound like REAL people talking, although you don't necessary record everything (ums, uhs, wells, etc.) -- it's a simulation of speech, but it should sound like what the characters would actually say. NO ONE speak perfect, grammatically correct English all the time. Most people speak in broken sentences, sentence fragments, slangs, etc.

I always go for realism. The problem is when I have to write something set in the past -- I am not sure exactly how they spoke back in the days. I could only imagine and do research.

Sohia Rose
01-14-2007, 10:17 AM
Whenever I write, I try to polish up my sentences the way an editor would like it. But I always try to slip in a piece of me. :)

Now, if this post was me "writing." I would re-write it like this:

I polish my sentences to the editor's standard. Oftentimes, I slip in pieces of me.

Buh, I hate that! But then I would obsess over the sentence to make sure ALL of the grammar is correct. I've "corrected" my WIP so much, it almost doesn't sound like me anymore.

MMcC
01-14-2007, 10:53 AM
I tend to just write and let my crit group hack at it. My characters decide how they sound, and I like to trust them as I work. The narrative stuff isn't generally problematic, and dialogue... well my slash and hack homeys won't pull punches.

Sometimes I wish they would but only very briefly. :)

jodiodi
01-14-2007, 11:21 AM
My characters have their own way of speaking (all but one of them do not use contractions) in my current series. I do, however, try to write as realistically as possible in dialogue. Being from the south I'm accustomed to being thought ignorant simply because of my accent and pattern of speech. My problem comes in using language or writing the way I hear people around me speak and refer to things (and my own references as well). I'm working on it, though.

I've completely forgotten the point I was trying to make. I think I should retire to my chambers for some much-needed sleep.

PeeDee
01-14-2007, 11:31 AM
When it comes to dialogue, grammar, spelling and punctuation can all go hang for me. What I want is effect. I want tone. I want it to sound right.

This doesn't mean that if I write a gangster, I'm going to drop in nothing but incomprehensible slang. But he's also not going to speak proper Oxsford English, if you see what I mean.

But then, I always look to style and sound before grammar, so I may not be the best example to follow.

Chasing the Horizon
01-14-2007, 03:26 PM
So which method do you prefer: To be grammatically correct or to replicate the sometimes grammatically incorrect incoherent language of people? And where do you draw the line between the two, if a line is indeed drawn?
With dialog I draw the line when I myself can't tell what the character's trying to say. :D (Yes, this has happened)

As for the narrative, I try to at least come off sounding like I finished high school. (Which I actually didn't, but I'd rather it weren't to obvious)