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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Overview Setting: Language: Talk

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“Attention to language is essential in making scenes vibrant.” Laurie Alberts

Language is a quiet tool in setting that can have impact whether used subtly or overtly. Think of a recurring family gathering for example. You’re late arriving and as you come in the hallway you can hear the voices in the next room. One by one you can identify who’s speaking by their word choices, speech patterns, and sound of their voice. If you hear someone you don’t recognize, you hesitate and try to think who it might be.

Do you smile because you recognize the words from family stories being retold or cringe because you hear a subject that means someone is getting grilled. And you might be next.

Regardless of subject matter, each person has a “tell” to their style. Does Uncle Frank have a raspy voice from years of smoking, or from a job where he needs to shout? Does he use short, fast words? What about Aunt Fiona? Does she use long words in slow motion?  Does this contrast between them invite humor, or a deep sigh knowing extreme patience is now necessary?

Or you arrive at a gathering as a newcomer. How do you recognize possible ages of the characters from the dialogue you overhear? Young children, teenagers, elderly? Slang or polished speech—and the reason why?

Whatever combination of subject, word choices, and delivery you choose influences the scene and its purpose. And as the author you should be able to recognize each character’s language style without even saying their name.

Action Steps:

1.     Take 4-6 characters. Have a conversation with minimal description. For example, one girl is chewing on her ponytail.

2.     Write out a few words for each of the characters without identifying who they are. For example: Give to each five words or phrases that only they would use. Ex. rad i cal, oh dear.

3.     Can you tell them apart? How?

Share: Which character was the most difficult to identify without saying their name?

Read deep, marcy

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"The Seeker" Rachel Marks | Content Copyright Marcy Weydemuller | Site by Eagle Designs
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