When it comes to dialogue and writing in your character’s voice, how do you add your own twist? How can you add your personality to the material without forcing the dialogue into an unnatural progression? How can you add style, interest, and your own pizazz to someone else’s words? Writing dialogue can be tricky, especially if you’re writing in an unfamiliar accent. Proofreading your work can help identify sneaky accent errors and help you add your own style back into the dialogue. There are several easy ways to place your touch to each accent, character, or place that you write about.
1. Imagine yourself as the character: If you sit down to write a scene between two characters, imagine what you would be thinking, feeling, talking about if you were them. Everyone thinks about scenarios differently and this process could be crucial in you letting your own ideas and voice shine. Taking on the mindset of your character in addition to your own views, opinions, likes, and dislikes will set you apart from other writers naturally. You’ll be able to create organic, flowing dialogue that sounds like your character with a touch of you. One of the biggest struggles I have as a writer is putting myself in my character’s shoes to write their dialogue. But once I manage to think about how I would feel in the situation and then think about the character’s similarities and differences to my own ideas, it becomes much clearer how and what I need to write; plus, I’ve added my own unique touch in the process.
2. Use slang and words that you commonly use in your character’s dialogue: The use of slang in dialogue brings your characters to live, shows setting, and shows their personality; but it can also show your own. If you’re writing a story about a southern gentleman who wants to run away to Brazil with a girl he met at Mardi Gras, think about what slang or broken words they would use to communicate. Think about how you would try to communicate in English to someone who mostly speaks Portuguese with small bits of English. Think about what Portuguese slang words are common that the female character would teach her southern mate and vice versa. Think about your own slang and where you picked it up. Would the southern gentleman or the Brazilian girl use any? Could you add some of your own in there and show your background? Yes, of course. You want to put your own jazz in the story. You can use your slang intermixed with theirs and create your own versions of multifaceted characters. Adding pieces of yourself into your characters through their dialogue is one of the best ways to create a unique story that’s all your own style.
3. Write in your own words: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was, “No matter what you’re writing about, write from your own mind in your own words.” When you write dialogue, try not to get bogged down in worrying over every little thing your character would do. Use your own mind; what would you do? How would you react? What would you say next? How would you solve the problem? Putting the story back in your own mind will easily give your story style because it’s all coming from you. You can pretend to be one of your characters or pretend that you’re an older Canadian woman with two cats moving to Belgium and don’t know the language; however, if you think about your reactions to the situation, your dialogue will not only be easier to write but shine with your own personal style and voice.
Remember that when you’re writing dialogue it’s always important to proofread your work. It’s extremely easy to make an error when writing in an accent or in your character’s voice. I like to use online resources for this because they’re fast, more accurate than Microsoft Word a lot of the time, and identify my most common errors and teach me how to avoid them. Grammarly is one of the most comprehensive proofreading tools I’ve used. It’s great for quick proofreading, grammar and punctuation checks, or learning more about avoiding errors. It also helps improve the style of my dialogue by suggesting more pungent words and adapting to the voice I’m writing in to find more specific errors. Proofreading your dialogue is essential to having a completely clean story. Even if you’re writing with a lot of accent marks, strange punctuation, or slang, cleaning it up to make it grammatically correct is important. When it comes to writing dialogue, using your own voice is the most important piece to adding your style to the character’s speech. Nobody can say it like you can.
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.