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Crafting Dynamic Dialogue by Cheryl St. John, Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter 16

A Variety of Voices

Chris Rogers

Who can forget Eliza’s “Oawoo!” from My Fair Lady or Yoda’s “stubborn you are” from Return of the Jedi? Distinctive characters not only come instantly alive and draw us deep into their fictional words, they also live on in our minds.

Viewpoint characters should sound the same in their thoughts as in their words. For this reason, if no other, I avoid strong dialect with its plethora of apostrophes. Instead, I devise a language for each character that consists of simple choices.

Like other novelists, I develop character profiles: Where is he from? What does she read? When did he marry? Who does she trust? When I advance that process a step further and create speech profiles, I find my characters more ...

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