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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Building a Story World

Language Study

Another aspect to consider is the sound of your language. This goes beyond sentence structure of flow and pacing, although it can impact both. What sound do you want as your influence—a soft flowing romantic lilt or a more guttural tone such as Klingon. (And yes, I do know it’s not a real language even though it has its own dictionary J)

Give yourself a few days to wander through a busy city and stop in restaurants to listen to styles of speech. When you hear the accents that attract you, then use their tones and words for your backdrop atmosphere. In my city culture changes from neighborhood to neighborhood. On one street alone within a two-block radius the restaurants include, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Italian, Greek, Hamburger joints, vegan, coffee shops, bakeries (Russian and Polish) and an Irish pub. And I know I’ve forgotten some. Each is owned and provides meals of their cultural specialties. A twenty-minute stop for an appetizer or dessert or drink offers an opportunity to listen to another country. It’s a relaxing way to study a language.

Take notes. Where did a conversation sound harsh or worrisome? What sounded sweet? Did the inflections go up or down?

Exercise: Choose a section of dialogue in your own work and play with different sounds. Take each person’s conversational part and write it up as a poem to see what sound it leans towards. Replace a few words to intensify the effect you want and then put the conversation back together.

Share: Did you notice anything specific when you kept one’s person’s words apart?

When I did this once I realized one character spoke with assurance and the other spoke in monosyllables.

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